By Dana Dean
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) -
A meth bust. Meth making materials everywhere. Four innocent children watching it all. This isn't "Breaking Bad," but it is the reality of a drug task force. Dana Dean was able to spend a day with the unit as they made a bust in Imperial. Four suspects arrested and all were back on the street within 24 hours?
This is so frustrating for the Jefferson County Drug Task Force. The majority of people who are arrested are back on the street the next day -- and cooking meth again.
That's because they can only hold someone in jail for 24 hours without charging them.
In meth cases, it typically takes four to six months for formal charges to be filed. All because authorities have to wait to get test results back from the state lab to confirm the chemicals are indeed meth. The state lab has a large workload and is so busy that they didn't even have time for me to come see it in person. And when the charges finally come, and the sentence is handed down, it leaves the task force wanting more
"Generally and unfortunately, the punishment is very light. but there again that's out of our control, that's out of our hands," Corporal Chris Hoffman said.
He says, generally, the punishment is a long term probation sentence and a possible treatment program for the addiction.
The task force believes there's more that can be done to try and stop the meth problem. Hoffman wants a state law that would require a prescription to buy pseuodphedrine, a key ingredient in meth. Missouri has only 70 municipalities that do this.
According to the task force, the exposure to the chemical fumes poses a health hazard and can cause extreme lung damage, eye irritation, throat irritation, and several other health hazards. Several detectives have been exposed to chemical fumes and have lost a certain percentage of their lung capacity.
This year, the task force says they have located and seized 171 meth labs. They say the numbers do not appear to be slowing down.
As for the small children who were at the meth bust, the Children's Division was contacted and the kids are with a relative.