Bill provides $1.1M to combat meth labs

Friday, December 28, 2007

U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon has helped to secure $1.1 million in federal funding to help state and local officials fight methamphetamine production and abuse.

"Strong state and federal laws are making an impact on meth production, but we still have too many meth labs in Tennessee," Gordon said. "Last year, Tennessee had more meth lab seizures than all but four states.

"Law enforcement needs better ways to detect clandestine meth labs and more resources to educate the community about the dangers of meth abuse," the 6th District Democrat said.

Gordon represents Marshall County.

The Middle Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force will receive $423,000 to combat meth abuse and expand law enforcement and educational activities in the region. The joint effort is carried out by Middle Tennessee counties, Tennessee Technological University and the Tennessee 13th Judicial District.

"Much needs to be done to address the meth problem in our region and throughout Tennessee," TTU President Bob Bell said. "Faculty at universities like Tennessee Tech can make use of their expertise, engaging in the level of research required to find real solutions to the problems. We're hoping the passage of this bill will allow TTU to make more progress."

According to a 2006 National Drug Threat Survey of state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation, meth was named most often as the greatest drug threat in communities.

Funds secured by Gordon in previous years have enabled the task force to hire a full-time prosecutor for meth, provide training to district law enforcement officers and purchase equipment to create a shared database of meth lab locations. The task force also has used funds to educate and train teachers, apartment owners, trash collectors, motel operators and other groups to identify signs of meth production and abuse.

The legislation approved by the House of Represen-tatives also included $752,000 for statewide efforts to combat meth.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee alone reported 401 meth lab seizures last year. Only Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Arkansas reported more meth lab seizures.