FAIRMONT - A new method of manufacturing methamphetamine has appeared in the past year, but Martin County Sheriff Jeff Markquart says most of the meth seen in the area is usually not made here.
Recent reports of meth being manufactured using the "one pot" method does show how these labs are tougher to catch than the meth labs of 10 years ago.
"It's easier to do, and it's more for users than sellers because it yields a smaller amount," Markquart said. "It's also a faster method of cooking, only taking about 30 to 45 minutes, and it can be done in a two-liter pop bottle. We're finding things in more ditches now ... It's easy enough for them to be going down the road, and tossing things out along the way."
But an easier, quicker method does not remove the danger factor.
"There are many different steps they need to take, and there is still the danger of explosions, and inhaling fumes," Markquart said. "They have to gradually release the pressure from the lithium ... It's been made simpler from the old method, but there's lots of steps and it's more of a monster for us to chase."
While a ring of meth manufacturing was busted by law enforcement this summer, Markquart said most of the meth found here is still being brought in from elsewhere.
"We're not seeing full-scale labs, just because there's not a lot of volume made," he said. "The majority of meth we find is still brought in."
However, Markquart advises residents, especially in rural areas, to be alert to any suspicious activity and litter. Specifically, if coming across a bottle that is burned on the inside, it could the sign of a "one pot" meth lab.
"If you see vehicles sitting at abandoned farm places, or notice some unusual traffic, people sitting in places where they don't usually stop, those are the sort of reports that lead to us finding something," Markquart said. "Most people in rural areas know who drives by and which vehicles are out of place."
Along with residents keeping a watchful eye, stores also have reported suspicious activity and purchases to law enforcement. Significant purchases of pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) along with camping lantern fuel, instant ice packs or plant fertilizer, along with lithium batteries, are key ingredients in the manufacturing of methamphetamine in the "one pot" method.
Other crimes also could be linked to meth manufacturing, such as burglaries and thefts, either of the ingredients, or other items of value to use to get money to support the habit.
"One thing leads to another," Markquart said. "These people end up committing more crimes just to feed their addiction ... Stopping it will be a community effort. We need help from the community."