- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Authorities say meth lab busts have dropped in Anderson County, once considered the capital of the illegal drug factories.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1FCBWFK) reports that only three meth labs have been shut down this year in Anderson County. Mark Lucas, chief deputy of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, said all of those seizures occurred in January.

A few years ago, officials said it wasn’t uncommon for several meth lab seizures to be listed among sheriff’s department incident reports each week.

Meth lab discoveries and seizures in Anderson County peaked in 2012, with 124 cases, and then began declining: 74 in 2013 and 20 last year.

Lucas said 42 people were indicted in March 2013 following two large-scale meth investigations involving federal, state and local agencies, and 59 people were indicted in July 2014.

Arrests were also made on the local level for meth offenses ranging from sales to “smurfing,” the practice of using straw buyers to obtain meth precursors from several stores.

“While we have made some recent meth arrests, most of our persistent offenders are in jail,” Lucas said.

Overall in Tennessee, lab seizures were down 40 percent last year, according to the Tennessee Meth and Pharmaceutical Task Force.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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