Meth Labs on the Rise in Maine

By Paul Gaita 01/09/15

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency has seen an explosion of labs in the past year.

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Law enforcement officials in Maine are struggling to stem a rising tide of methamphetamine labs in their state, which have taxed their resources and manpower.

Officials from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) reported dismantling 28 labs this year, 12 more than in 2013 and more than six times as many in 2011. This number does not include the number of “dump sites,” where chemicals and other materials used to make meth are disposed.

The MDEA spends more than $10,000 to dismantle each lab, and that figure does not include the expenses incurred by local police and firefighters who are also called to the scene due to the high incident of fires and explosions associated with cleaning up meth labs.

MDEA officials believe that the rise in labs is not a part of expanded trafficking in the state. Treatment levels for meth addiction in Maine have experienced only slight growth over the last few years, and remain below the statistics reported in 2006, according to the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. Instead, officials attribute the increase in labs to improved training procedures for local law enforcement agencies, which have gotten better at finding such operations.

The MDEA hopes that a $900,000 federal grant will provide greater assistance in their efforts to hold back the rise in labs. The grant, which the state announced in October 2014, will allow the state to hire four new drug agents and buy specialized equipment for first responders to lab sites.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.