Franklin County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Jason Grellner has been busting meth labs since 1997.
As the President of the Missouri Narcotics Association and the Unit Commander of the Franklin County Narcotics Unit, which works in conjunction with the St. Louis County Drug Task Force, he's also been following meth trends and knows where meth hot spots are around Missouri.
He warns St. Louis County residents that meth is moving to their community and as previously reported by Patch has shared the numbers he said supports his claim.
"There aren't many crimes we can stop in the end, but meth labs is one we can. And the only reason we haven't is is because the pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars fighting us and the reason they are spending millions is because they are making billions on pseudoephedrine," Grellner tells Patch.
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Grellner said pseudoephedrine sales have spiked in St. Louis County since surrounding counties, including St. Charles and Jefferson counties, have passed ordinances requiring a prescription to purchase the key meth making ingredient. St. Louis County does not have such an ordinance, although some cities within the county do. Kirkwood does not.
Last year, detectives from the investigated a methamphetamine manufacturing case in which five men and four women from St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jefferson County were indicted on federal methamphetamine conspiracy charges. Detectives investigated the case after receiving information that one of the suspects was purchasing more than the maximum monthly allowance of pseudoephedrine under Missouri state law at a local pharmacy.
Grellner points out that mobile meth labs are becoming more popular as criminals are creating more "shake and bake" meth labs where they make the drug by simply using a plastic soda or water bottle. So, although police may not be seeing more labs in homes, Grellner is sure meth is moving to St. Louis County.
"West County, South County and North County are going to experience more of that. These people think it's safer to manufacture meth in their moving cars where the cops can't find them, and then they throw the meth lab materials out the window," Grellener explained.
However, he said there are two current projects in the works that he sees as solutions to the problem. One is House Bill 1952 that would make it state law to require people to have a prescription to purchase the drug pseudoephedrine.
Grellner's second solution is newly developed products that cannot be converted into meth.
"Highland Pharmaceuticals has developed a technology that when deployed with the pseudoephedrine, it can be efficacious to the consumer and yet cannot be turned into meth," Grellner tells Patch. "You can get the pseudoephedrine you want for your allergies and people just can't make meth out of it."
Grellner said the technology is not yet on the market, but Highland Pharmaceuticals, based in Maryland Heights, already has a major retailer in the St. Louis area interested in carrying the product. Grellner expects it to be available in the next month or two.
Kirkwood Patch Editor Owen Skoler contributed to this report.