Home Local News Homemade meth decreasing in Richmond County, statewide

Homemade meth decreasing in Richmond County, statewide

N.C. SBI

ROCKINGHAM — There have been no meth lab busts in Richmond County in the past two years, according to statistics from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.

The SBI recently updated website to include maps of methamphetamine clandestine lab responses for 2020 and 2021 which show none locally in those years.

At one point, Richmond ranked third in the state for the number of meth labs.

The local decrease mirrors the reduction in labs statewide.

SBI records show the number of clandestine labs in the state peaked in 2013 at 561 and have steadily been decreasing since.

In 2018, the oldest map on the website, Richmond County was in a three-way tie for having the fourth-most meth lab responses, along with Sampson and Johnston counties, which neighbor each other.

Onslow County had the most that year with 11, followed by Buncombe with nine and Harnett with eight. Nearby Anson and Stanly counties had five and four, respectively.

Eleven other counties had two to five labs and 29 counties had only one.

There were 120 total that year.

The following year, Northampton County ranked the highest with nine labs, followed by Anson with eight. Wake County was third with four, followed by Richmond with three.

Onslow dropped to having the fifth-highest number of labs with two, along with Granville and Iredell counties, and 19 counties had one — with the statewide total dropping to 49.

The SBI’s 2020 map shows there were only 38 that year, as Craven County topped the list with six, followed by Onslow with four. Catawba County had three and Anson, Wake, Rowan, Jackson, Alamance and Harnett counties each had two. Thirteen counties, including Stanly, had one each.

Last year, the total number of SBI responses dropped to nine.

Johnston County had two labs, while Anson, Onlsow, Davidson, Forsyth, Cherokee and Watauga counties had one. 

Neighboring Moore County is listed as having a lab with both methamphetamine and DMT — a hallucinogenic drug that can be found naturally or made in a lab. 

Sheriff Mark Gulledge attributes part of the local reduction in homemade meth to the partnership forged by his predecessor with the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of North Carolina, which resulted in 74 men and women being federally prosecuted for their respective roles in manufacturing the caustic cocktail.

But just because it isn’t being made locally, doesn’t mean the drug is off the streets.

Richmond County Jail records on Tuesday afternoon showed seven detainees are charged with possession and two with trafficking.

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“The reduced numbers of domestically produced methamphetamine laboratories is not unique to (North Carolina), but rather it’s a national trend,” according to SBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge J. Cadwallader. “The drug trafficking organizations in Mexico have flooded the market with high-quality, low-cost crystal methamphetamine thus reducing the need to make ‘homemade’ meth.”

Earlier this month, president Joe Biden signed into law the Methamphetamine Response Act, a bipartisan bill that requires the government to label meth as an “emerging drug threat” and to develop a response plan specific to methamphetamine.

Gulledge said that meth has taken a backseat to opiates like heroin and fentanyl.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recently reported that overdose deaths in the state increased by 40% from 2019 to 2020.

While most of those deaths involved opioids, NCDHHS said that overdoses involving methamphetamine and cocaine are also rising.