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      Missouri regains unwanted claim to fame: Meth Capital

      Missouri has regained an unwanted claim to fame. An Associated Press survey revealed the Show-Me State is back in the #1 spot for meth lab seizures.

      In 2011, Missouri had 2,096 busts. Tennessee came in second with 1,687 followed by Indiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma.

      The numbers show meth is not just a problem in Missouri, but the nationâ??s heartland as a whole.The total for Missouri lines up with preliminary numbers AP obtained this week from the Drug Enforcement Administration, whose data appeared to show meth lab seizures remained about even during the past two years. But the totals for each of the other states surveyed by AP reveal the numbers are higher than the federal data.

      Between the AP survey and information from the DEA, numbers indicate meth lab seizures nationwide rose at least 8.3% from 2010 to 2011.

      Missouri had been the nationâ??s top meth-producing state every year from 2003-2009, but fell to Tennessee in 2010.

      One staggering statistic shows just how prevalent the drug is in Missouri. According to the AP, in 2011, Jefferson County, which is just south of St. Louis County, had 253 seizures. Thatâ??s more than Texas, Florida, and California combined. Those three states had a total of 219 meth lab busts.

      Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull attributed the stateâ??s consistently high seizure rate to law enforcement agenciesâ?? focus on addressing the meth problem.

      Police in many Missouri counties stake out pharmacies and watch for â??pill shoppersâ?? who go from store to store to purchase decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, a vital meth ingredient, now that tighter state restrictions have limited how much of the product they can buy in one place at one time. Many Missouri agencies also have officers focused solely on meth.

      â??Is Missouri that much worse or does Missouri just take a more aggressive approach? I think Missouri law enforcement just aggressively deals with the issue,â?? Hull said.

      Indeed, Missouri and Kentucky are among a handful of high-meth states that developed their own programs to train local police to better handle meth cleanup and take the hazardous waste to container sites placed around the state.

      The APâ??s tally of the top meth states is unofficial because while the DEAâ??s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) compiles meth lab seizure data, some states are slow to report complete figures. Final data for 2011 wonâ??t be made public until mid-year, said DEA spokesman Rusty Payne.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

      Sound offâ?|

      Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull said Missouri is very aggressive in its approach to getting meth out of Missouri and that contributes to the stateâ??s high bust numbers. Do you agree with him? If not, why? Overall, is Missouri's war on meth working?

      What else could the state do to prevent meth from being made in Missouri?

      Give us your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below and vote in our online poll.