Meth Labs Adapting to Police Enforcement in North Carolina

The Increased Meth Production Is a Result of Smaller, More Mobile Labs

In 2005, North Carolina passed legislation that controlled the purchase of pseudoephedrine, contained in previously over-the-counter cold medicines like Sudafed and used to make methamphetamine. The laws restrict the number of purchases any one individual can buy in a month and keep track of the purchaser. Initially the law appeared to be a success, as difficulty getting precursor drugs hindered meth labs. Police saw a noticeable decline the following years in meth lab busts.

Now it appears that some meth traffickers are getting creative. Law enforcement officers say a new method for creating the drug, called "shake and bake," uses far less pseudoephedrine and can be made in something as small as a 2 liter soda bottle. Accordingly, police busts of meth labs have increased steadily.

While easier to hide, the new improvised meth labs have as much, if not more, danger and toxicity as the old method. Meth makers who make a mistake in their shake and bake technique can create explosions. As the new method is often used in cars or small enclosed spaces, the new alternative meth labs can be instant death traps.

Previously, meth makers needed stationary and permanent places to work, such as garages, and at least dozens of boxes of cold medicine. They also needed open flame, which is not a requirement to the shake and bake method.

According to police, the new method apparently originated in Western North Carolina, and is steadily making its way east.

State and Federal Enforcement Provides Strict Punishment for Meth

Sentencing for meth trafficking can vary a great deal. However, minimum federal sentencing guidelines and state laws modeled after them make it unlikely a drug trafficking conviction for meth would result in a light sentence.

Also, if the trafficking involved selling to minors or designated school zones, the penalties increase.

Generally, how much of the substance you have on you during the police bust governs how long the sentence. Over 400 grams of methamphetamine, for example, can get you over 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

If you have been charged with drug trafficking, due to the serious nature of the penalties for meth possession and trafficking you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.