Utah Drops from No.3 to No.39 for Meth Labs

Utah Drops from No.3 to No.39 for Meth Labs

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Utah meth cooks gained an early foothold in the production of the outlawed drug, but now they've been surpassed throughout most of the country.

Utah was ranked No.3 in meth labs seized by law enforcement in 1998, but was only No.39 in 2003, according to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration figures.

"There's a certain demographic in this area that got involved in this for whatever reason and they were able to get a foothold," said Lt. Mike Ashment, commander of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force.

"They started manufacturing it and teaching people how to do it, one doper to another," he said.

Other officials cite Utah's accessibility to traffickers in Southern California and Mexico.

They also say that in the late 1990s, Utah applied more resources to the problem than did other states, resulting in more methamphetamine labs being seized.

Utah is essentially at the late-1990s levels for the number of meth labs, according to the DEA. Numbers are way up in other states as meth spreads east, the statistics indicate.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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