In small town and rural Indiana, you can see the gaunt, ghost people. They have rotting teeth. They drive beat up pickup trucks and old Pontiacs, sometimes with kids standing in the backseat. They can be tracked on a ritual tour of drug stores in the tri-county area.
And when they do their work, the crude harvest is methamphetamine, or crystal meth. The cooking pots are often discarded behind the trailer, or down in the creek, or alongside the county road. Sometimes the motel they’re in explodes and burns.
In Indiana: The Methamphetamine State! 2013 was a despicable and banner year, following 2012 that had us ranked only behind Missouri and Tennessee in meth production. According to Indiana State Police statistics, 1,808 labs were busted, up from 1,437 in 2011 and 803 in 2006. Of course, the cops don’t get all of the labs busted. There are probably four or five times that amount chugging out crystal meth at any given time.
In 2004 when Our Man Mitch had barnstormed across the state in his RV1, there were 1,137 lab busts and the future governor heard all about it from the local cops and social agencies. The year 2006 was a bit of an anomaly, as the Indiana General Assembly passed laws trying to crimp the bitter harvest by limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine purchased over the counter at CVS or Walgreens.
By the time Gov. Daniels left office, there were 1,726 lab busts and the county jails were filling up with broken cooks and their pregnant old ladies.
The remedy is not working.
The 2013 stats are particularly appalling because 458 kids were found on the lab premises, up from 388 in 2012, 185 in 2009, and 125 in 2007.
When it comes to death inside a meth lab, 27 adults were killed, including four in police action shootings, two in pursuit crashes, 10 in explosions, two suicides and three homicides. There were two kids killed and 13 injured, including seven burned in fires, one chemical burn, four exposed to chemical vapors and one poor young soul who swallowed chemicals.