There were 460 meth lab busts in the state last year. That's a record high. It's up from 344 busts the year before. State Bureau of Investigation agents attribute the rise to an increase in a simpler method of making the drug called "one-pot" or "shake and bake." Criminals cook the meth in a plastic soda bottle - using much smaller levels of the main ingredient, pseudo-ephedrine - commonly found in cold medicine.
Attorney General Roy Cooper says another trend shows these smaller labs moving into urban areas with increasing frequency. That said, meth busts are still most prevalent in rural areas. In Wilkes County last year, Cooper says SBI agents busted 59 labs...
Roy Cooper: "That's a significant amount in a small county. One of the reasons is you'll get a number of meth makers who teach others how to do it and you'll get ramped up law enforcement who work hard to go after these meth labs and you see a corresponding increase in the number of meth busts."
While meth busts are on the rise in North Carolina - Cooper says the increases are significantly higher in neighboring states like Tennessee and Virginia. Cooper attributes North Carolina's relative success to technology that electronically tracks illegal sales of pseudo-ephedrine. He says the amount of the drug blocked last year could have been used to make 277 pounds of meth.