Small, toxic methamphetamine labs that overwhelmed rural and suburban areas in recent years are disappearing as ingredients to make the drug become more difficult to find, USA Today says. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports a 58 percent drop in meth labs and abandoned sites seized last year by police and U.S. agents, to 7,347. In 2003, 17,356 sites were seized. The DEA credits the decline to state and federal laws that restrict the sale of cold medicines and chemicals used to make methamphetamine and to increased law enforcement.
The percentage of U.S. residents known to have used meth in their lifetimes dropped only slightly from 4.9 percdnt in 2004 to 4.3 percent in 2005. The rates of those saying they used meth in the past month or past year did not change. About 512,000 people use meth regularly. Nationwide, small meth labs produced only 20 percent of the meth supply, even at their peak, the DEA says. The bulk is created in large, professional-style labs and smuggled into the country from Mexico and Canada. The DEA estimates that up to 90 percent of the meth in the U.S. is imported.