Fighting the Scourge of Methamphetamine
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
November 30, 2001
Methamphetamine, commonly called Meth, is a drug many people had never heard of until recent years. Yet it has spread through our state at a dangerous rate, taking a toll on our people, our environment, and our local governments.
Congress has taken action to combat Methamphetamine, recently providing $20 million to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in Tennessee and across the country with the cleanup of toxic meth labs. The production of methamphetamine, a dangerous chemical process carried out in labs often hidden in private homes, many times results in chemical explosions and fires. While dangerous to manufacturers and users who face serious burns and long term consequences including lung disease and rotting teeth, children living side-by-side with labs are affected as well.
Tennessee investigators arrested several adults on child abuse and neglect charges earlier this year after young children were discovered in homes and apartments housing labs. In the worst of these cases, a small child died in February of cardiac arrest reportedly caused by complications from severe burns suffered during a meth lab explosion.
Methamphetamine production also threatens our environment, with five or six pounds of toxic waste generated by every pound of meth produced. And the cleanup of just one meth lab costs from $3,000 to $100,000, depleting the financial resources of our local communities.
Tennessee law enforcement officials have actively responded to the meth problem, shutting down labs and arresting manufacturers and distributors. In Dunlap, during a three-day meth crackdown in October, Sequatchie County Sheriff's investigators confiscated at least four working meth labs, leading to 13 arrests. In September, members of the Marion County Drug Task Force destroyed approximately 30 labs and arrested 58 people on charges ranging from possession of marijuana to manufacturing meth. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, 510 meth labs were seized in Tennessee between January 1999 and July 2001.
With the funds set aside by Congress, in addition to a $1 million grant pledged to Southeast Tennessee by the Department of Justice, our local law enforcement officers will be able to continue eradicating these labs and protecting our environment without draining limited resources from our local communities.
Meth is a dangerous drug, not only for what it does to users and manufacturers, but also for what it does to the innocent bystanders who are dragged into its path. Finding and destroying labs is the first step in combating the underworld of methamphetamine and I'm very pleased Congress is supporting these efforts. For more information on this column or other issues, visit my web site at