BATAVIA, NY (WKBW) -- Methamphetamine labs have been growing and expanding across Western New York since 1999. Numbers peaked in 2006 then dropped off a little, but within the last 6 months numbers have jumped up again. "There were 21 meth labs that were located throughout NY State just in the last 6 months," Drug Enforcement Administration group supervisor, Michelle Spahn, said. "We are now seeing again... that it's on the rise."
Nine of those 21 labs were in Western New York, and while some of the labs have been found in cities like one on Grand Island that was busted in January, majority of the labs are found in rural areas across the Southern Tier and now more recently in Genesee county. "Over the last 6 to 8 months we've seen... increased activity in regards to meth labs," Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha said. "Matter of fact there were 5 meth labs discovered...and dismantled."
Two of the labs were in Batavia and another in the quiet Town of Alabama in a mobile home which police raided last November. "A lot of cars coming in and out... it was a really beat down trailer," Angie, who lives next door to that property, said.
Angie and her family had no idea what they were moving next to when they found their new home months before that raid. But before they knew it their next door neighbors were arrested for operating a meth lab there. The mobile home was so contaminated the county had to burn it down. "It was an old mobile home, they'd been cooking there for quite some time, odors throughout the house... so the county decided to have it burned down," Sheriff Maha said.
Angie says even though there's a lot to clean up on the property she decided to buy that land so this won't happen again there. "It's just our land and no one else is gonna move in," Angie said.
So why are these labs popping up at such a fast pace? Officials say there are several reasons. "Our information is that most of these meth labs are being utilized by younger people who are finding these recipes readily available on the internet and how to make meth," Spahn said. "It is a simple process yet very dangerous."
"There's money to be made in the sale of meth, it's relatively easy to make," Sheriff Maha said. "I think somebody starts a meth lab and they talk to their friends how easy it is to get a lab up, so their friend gets a meth lab up and going. That was the situation out in Alabama which led Sheriff deputies to a lab in the city of Batavia, they knew each other."
Sheriff Maha also says they aren't going to tolerate meth labs in Genesee county. More than seven people have been arrested in connection to the recent labs in the county alone and are facing federal charges.
Officials say citizens are their eyes and ears so if you see suspicious items being thrown out by a neighbor or smell chemicals, call police or your local DEA office. Buffalo's office is 716-846-6000. For more information you can go to http://www.justice.gov/dea/index.htm.