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The just-ended year has been a busy one in the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s war on methamphetamine labs.
The agency waged an “aggressive” campaign to rid the county of the noxious drug and labs in 2012 and, according to officials, 2013 is going to be an encore.
The county was among the top five in reported meth lab busts statewide last year and officials said it is due mainly to the agency’s zero tolerance for the activity and a simplistic process to manufacture the drug — the one-pot cook.
Meth production used to be multi-layered and took a while to produce. However, that all changed with the introduction of the one-pot process.
The one-pot method — also called the shake-and-bake method — is where all the ingredients and chemicals are combined into a one-reaction vessel, usually a bottle or jar.
But because all the ingredients are brewed together, the method has shown a high susceptibility for explosions and fire. All the ingredients can often be kept in a backpack — making the lab highly portable.
Last January, Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said in discussions about his agency’s plans for 2012 two of his main goals were to be aggressive about drugs and property crimes.
At the beginning of 2013, the numbers bear out that aggressive stance: since January 2012, 48 labs were shut down and dozens arrested on a litany of meth-related charges. The previous year, according to officials, about two dozen labs were shut down.
Early Wednesday, a pair from Lecanto were the first in the new year to be arrested on suspicion of the manufacture of methamphetamines.
Sgt. John Novy of the CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit said the aggressive effort is paying dividends.
Novy said he knows of a few instances where known manufacturers of the drug have shifted their operations to neighboring counties.
“We are going to continue attacking it until it is annihilated in this county,” he said. “Too many lives are being affected by these drugs.”
Novy credits his colleagues for their focus on eradicating the scourge as one of the reasons for all the success the agency is having in dismantling the labs and arresting manufacturers.
He said plans are afoot to spread more awareness, especially among other deputies about what clues to look for in a potential meth den or someone involved in the manufacture of the drug.
Novy said a meth-disposal container is also in the works for 2013 in the county.
“We would now have a place we can dump the lab waste and it will be disposed every other month or so, with no cost to the taxpayer,” he said.
Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe can be reached at 352-564-2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.