Making sense of the major meth problem in the St. Louis area

5:08 AM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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By Ashley Yarchin

St. Louis (KSDK) - We've been reporting a lot lately on mobile meth labs. So, we decided to take your questions and ours to the Drug Enforcement Administration in St. Louis.

To tell you this story, we take a trip to Pacific to a home on East Franklin Street in July of last year. There was a major meth bust - the second time in six months at the same rural address - a typical type of location for that kind of fracas.

"It provided some anonymity to the meth producer," recalled James Shroba, the acting special agent in charge at the DEA in St. Louis. "The alarming trend now, within the last 18 to 24 months, we've seen the emergence of shake-n-bake or one pot meth labs."

He says of the 1,200 labs they'll likely seize this year, 85 percent will be like the one allegedly found on 32-year-old Jennifer Vaughn inside a South County Walmart.

"Anybody that can read and write, has got a few dollars in their pocket can make meth. That's the scary message," Shroba said. "It makes me nervous that individuals, like this woman who was arrested, are so bold. They're so brazen and they have such disregard for anyone else's safety."

Because, Shroba explained, those shake-n-bake labs are essentially bombs. He said the reason Vaughn kept cooking the meth, even after she was detained by security, is that the substance can't be left alone. The cap on the soda bottle it's made in must be removed at different times to let out certain chemicals or else it'll explode.

"Everybody has to be aware now that this isn't just something that takes place in rural Missouri," Shroba went on to say. "This takes place in your backyard."

And he added that a meth maker won't stop just because she's gone out to get some groceries.



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