Tracking Your Tax Dollars: Meth lab cleanup in NRV - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Tracking Your Tax Dollars: Meth lab cleanup in NRV

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Your tax dollars pay for the office and salary of Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Whitt.

Lately they're also paying for a problem, one that is getting worse throughout Southwest Virginia.

Meth. It's cheap, easy to make and very dangerous.

I've often heard it referred to as a poor man's cocaine," Witt said. "it's jumped to almost epidemic (proportions)."

If you live in Montgomery Co. more and more of your tax dollars are going toward cleaning up meth.

In 2012, the sheriff's office cleaned up four sites spending a little more than $7,000.

That number sky-rocketed last year when the department cleaned up 25 sites, costing taxpayers more than $36,000.

Since federal money was cut, the majority of that cost goes to hiring outside companies to safely dispose of the waste.

"I could be sending (my guys) to specialty schools that otherwise I can't send them to simply because I spent $36,000 plus on cleanup," Witt said.

There is some relief is in sight for the county.

With the help of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Virginia State Police are setting up and running disposal containers throughout Southwest Virginia for meth lab supplies. It eliminates the need for private companies and the high cost for communities.

While it's a weight off the shoulders of police and taxpayers in Montgomery Co., it's a cost that doesn't go away.

"In 2014 we expect the cost to at least double," said Lieutenant Rob Friedley, who specializes in drug enforcement with the state police.

Numbers we pulled from the agency show it costs an average of nearly $1,900 to clean up each meth lab.

But Friedley said the greater cost is with his people.

It usually takes five agents six to eight hours to safely dispose of the material.

"This is something that's not going to diminish, it's just going to increase," he said. "In order to do our regular job and then the additional job of the labs, we really need some additional manpower to help with that."

While meth is a nationwide problem, it's particularly bad in Southwest Virginia.

Busts jumped from four to 25 last year in Montgomery Co.

But further southwest it's significantly worse.

Last year state police in Wythe Co. busted 239 meth labs in a 15 county area that includes Carroll, Giles, Grayson and Pulaski counties.

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