While labs are declining in numbers, violence is rising.
Tulsa police say that violence surrounding the manufacture and use of methamphetamine is rising, despite a decline in the number of meth labs found in the northeastern Oklahoma city.
Sgt. Dave Walker told the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/19bOBPO) that at least 11 slayings during 2013, including two quadruple slayings, are believed to be related to the meth trade.
Walker said that during a January raid, narcotics officers found "trafficking amounts" of methamphetamine at a home on the city's north side, the same home where four people were found shot to death Nov. 23.
"That's the only thing we can think of that they were involved in that would lead to this carnage," Walker said.
"Something's going on. There is an increase in violence at this moment," Walker said, adding that violence may be the way meth suppliers are "taking care of" unpaid debts and turf disputes.
The violence comes while the number of meth labs found has fallen by about 65 percent. The record number of labs found in Tulsa was 429 in 2011, compared to 295 in 2012 and 143 thus far in 2013.
Police credit the decline on legislation passed in July 2012 to restrict access to pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in producing meth.
"The more you control pseudoephedrine, the (fewer) meth labs you're going to have," Cpl. Mike Griffin told the newspaper. "If you (revert) pseudoephedrine back to a Schedule III drug like it once was, they would go down even further, so it's really simple."
But Griffin said that the decreased number of meth labs does not indicate any reduction in meth use.
"It depends on whether or not you want to look at it from the fact that we still have a whole lot of people in a risky, illegal business in town," he said, referring to meth use. "Or do we want to say, 'Hey, (the number of meth labs found) is down from where it was' ?"
"Meth itself doesn't start apartment fires or kill little babies; meth labs do."
Fires have occurred at eight meth lab sites this year, according to police, though none of them has been fatal.