Police across the U.S. are struggling with a proliferation of busts for methamphetamine production, fueled by the rise dangerous “one pot” labs, the Wall Street Journal reports. The popular technique has largely replaced the kitchen-size meth lab with a single, two-liter soda bottle. Ingredients for a batch can easily be obtained on a single trip to a pharmacy and mixed almost anywhere. One-pot labs aren’t new, but they are spreading as budget cuts are reducing police forces.
In Christiansburg, Va., the police department is paying thousands of dollars to clean up toxic labs. Police in Tulsa, Ok., have handled 15 percent more meth-lab busts this year than all of last year, at a time when the department is down 70 officers. Nationally, incidents related to meth production rose above 11,000 last year, after falling sharply to around 6,000 in 2007, says the Drug Enforcement Administration. One-pot operations produce small quantities of meth at a time, but are toxic and highly explosive, occasionally resulting in fires and deaths. Their small scale makes them especially hard to find and stop, partly because they don’t require enough pseudoephedrine—an essential meth ingredient found in some cold medications—to run afoul of federal purchasing limits.