Missouri retains what the state Highway Patrol characterizes as the "unfortunate distinction" of leading the nation in seizures of methamphetamine laboratories.
The patrol reported last week 1,960 illegal labs that manufacture, or cook, the dangerous and deadly drug were seized during 2010.
The statistic marks a 10 percent increase from 2009 and a 53 percent increase from 2007.
In comparison to data from other states, Missouri far exceeded secondplace Tennessee, which record 1,197 meth lab seizures.
Is Missouri the nation's meth lab capital or is Missouri law enforcement more adept at locating meth labs and shutting them down?
The answer likely is both.
A decline in math lab seizures was reported by the patrol in 2006, after enactment of legislation to combat meth, followed by a steady increase from 2007-10.
The patrol attributes the increases to meth makers finding ways to circumvent laws that limit purchases of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in manufacturing meth.
Meth poses a double danger.
It is a highly addictive, illegal drug that may result in unusual or irrational behavior, severe health consequences and death.
Meth production is a risky business that involves cooking hazardous ingredients that may cause deadly fires and explosions.
Officers involved in meth lab seizures must receive specialized safety training to respond, investigate, and clean up meth labs.
Col. Ron Replogle, patrol superintendent, summed up the devastation when he called meth "a deadly drug, with dangerous consequences for all Missouri communities, including increasing other criminal activity, and endangering the children who grow up in residences where meth is produced and used."
We commend the patrol and other law enforcement agencies for their efforts to eliminate meth labs. And we encourage the public to promptly report evidence of meth production.