Police investigating meth lab

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005

Kenai police and Alaska State Troopers are investigating a methamphetamine lab discovered in Kenai on Sunday.

Police are not releasing specific information about where the lab was found because the investigation is ongoing, and no arrests have been made thus far. Kenai Sgt. Gus Sandahl said Wednesday that the lab is one of a handful discovered in Kenai this year.

“We’ve had our share,” he said.

Sandahl said the lab is the third or fourth found in city limits this year. A big year for Kenai, he said, would be to find six or eight labs.

“It goes in spurts,” he said. “Last year there were a few more.”

Sandahl said the lack of meth lab busts in Kenai doesn’t mean there aren’t people using the drug. Instead, he said he believes labs aren’t showing up in Kenai in big numbers because of the city’s relatively dense population compared to the rest of the peninsula.

“It’s probably in the more remote locations where people are doing them,” he said.

In addition, he said measures taken to curb the spread of the drug’s main ingredients — including cold pills that contain sudaphedrine — likely have had an impact.

“By the time the (national) wave of meth hit here, we were already having the wave of restrictions on the chemicals,” he said.

A lack of lab busts also doesn’t mean the drug isn’t being abused in the area.

“There are plenty of people out there possessing meth,” Sandahl said.

A bigger problem in Kenai remains a large culture of prescription drug abusers, he said.

“One of our biggest problems is prescription drugs,” he said. “And it has been for the past four or five years.”

Methamphetamine trends appear to be stable on the peninsula, according to numbers supplied by troopers.

According to Earlene Reed, an administrative clerk with the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement, troopers busted eight methamphetamine labs in 2004 and nine in 2003.

So far this year, she said there have been only three labs busted by troopers, but she cautioned that figure could be low because resources haven’t been as available this year as in past years.

“It’s basically holding steady,” she said.

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