BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia State Police said Friday they've arrested 32 people in the southern part of the state for manufacturing methamphetamine in the past month.
Officials announced the arrests during a news conference in Beckley, which they hope will draw attention to what they say is a growing problem in the region.
Sgt. Michael Baylous, West Virginia State Police spokesman, said investigators were tipped off to many of the meth labs through the public and by informants.
The arrests resulted in about 75 felony charges and the seizure of more than $1,000 in cash. In some instances, police also found heroin and marijuana at the meth labs, which were generally found at people's houses. The labs were found in Webster, Pendleton, Randolph, Braxton, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Fayette and Summers counties. Police say most of those arrested were producing meth for their own personal use.
West Virginia officials have been struggling to combat methamphetamine use for years. In 2012, state lawmakers passed a law intended to slow down the proliferation of meth labs. It limits the purchase of pseudoephedrine, commonly known sold under the name Sudafed, to three boxes per month and 20 per year.
The law also requires the statewide electronic tracking of pseudoephedrine. However, despite the restrictions, state police noted that individuals often work together to get the additional ingredients.
"There's always a network," said Trooper L.W. Price. "It takes four or five people to get together and they'll all take different ingredients. One man can buy a box of a Sudafed and another man gets the Drano."
State lawmakers are considering whether to further restrict pseudoephedrine in their upcoming legislative session.
Statewide, police had discovered nearly 500 clandestine meth labs through mid-November, Baylous said.
Brock Vergakis can be reached at http://twitter.com/BrockVergakis