Summit County leads state for meth labs

Summit County in northeast Ohio is a hotbed of methamphetamine production, leading the state in the number of labs busted, authorities said.The county sheriff’s drug unit found 85 meth lab sites in 2013, The Akron Beacon Journal reported today. 

The multi-jurisdictional group now has identified more than 900 meth labs and places where meth equipment was dumped since 2001 in Summit County. That’s more than in any other Ohio county.

The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network says in a new drug trend report that the availability of meth has increased in the Akron-Canton area, partly because the drug has become easier to make.

Meth can be created by mixing such items as lithium batteries, ammonium nitrate, drain cleaner and pseudoephedrine, and using nothing more than a 2-liter soda bottle to mix them, authorities said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register lists 395 meth sites in Summit. Highland County, in southwest Ohio, is a distant second with 58, followed by Ashtabula in far northeast Ohio (48) and Clermont near Cincinnati (45).

The drug report rates the availability of meth in the Akron-Canton area as a 10 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Community and law enforcement officials here say they are much more aggressive in going after meth labs, and that has led to the misconception that it’s a bigger problem in Summit County than elsewhere. And the DEA lists only sites reported by local law enforcement — meaning the meth problem might seem better or worse in some communities than it really is.

“If you think your community is immune, think again,” said Eric Wandersleben, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. “Addiction does not discriminate. It can impact anyone, anywhere, any time.”

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