UPDATE: 85 percent of meth busts statewide are in Southwest Virg - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

UPDATE: 85 percent of meth busts statewide are in Southwest Virginia

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© Virginia State Police © Virginia State Police
5:55 p.m.

It's one of the least populated portions of Virginia.

Yet communities like Pulaski, Giles, Wythe, Carroll and the 11 other counties that make up division four of the state police have one of the Commonwealth's biggest problems.

"There's no easy answer in trying to deal with the meth problem here in Southwest Virginia," said Sgt. Michael Conroy with the Virginia State Police.

Methanphetamines, or meth for short, have gone from a blip on the radar to one of the biggest problems facing police in our area today.

Conroy is one of several troopers who regularly work meth busts.

"Every year it seems that our responsibilities in terms of meth labs is growing," he said. "Sometimes the budget issues don't catch up with the cost involved."

It's a claim the numbers back-up.

Statewide, there were 28 meth busts in 2009.

In 2013, that number sky-rocketed to 408 busts, with 85 percent of those happening in Southwest Virginia.

Conroy said the drug's addictiveness and how easy it is to make are causing it to spread rapidly.

"We have followed people when they have been released from custody and they're out buying Sudafed again or going to another lab."

Now the problem is beginning to spread east.

Montgomery County saw its meth lab busts jump nearly five times in 2013.

Communities like Roanoke and Bedford are seeing a rise as well.

Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Whitt said it's a growing concern for deputies.

"I think it's jumped almost to the epidemic portion at this time," he said.

The General Assembly instituted a monitoring system for certain ingredients used to make meth.

Lawmakers are asking for patience with the new system.

But with more resources needed and more money being spent, patience is a luxury many departments are running out of.

"(It's) the compensatory time, the overtime," Whitt said. "The dedication of trying to ensure that we're as safe as we can be here in Montgomery County."

If the number of meth busts continue on the current pace, there will be close to a 50 percent jump statewide in 2014.

So far, 80 percent of those busts have been here in Southwest Virginia.

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Meth labs are a growing problem across the Commonwealth and new numbers show the majority of the problem is here in Southwest Virginia.

In 2013, police busted more than 400 meth labs across Virginia.

85 percent of those came from Southwest Virginia.

State Police say the problem has been spreading from west to east, with the current problem coming from Tennessee.

For all of the dangers surrounding the drug, users are not the only ones effected.

"You do see a lot of children that have been exposed to these meth labs," said Sgt. Michael Conroy with the Virginia State Police in Wythe County. "It is very frustrating because the children are innocent victims, and you have their caregiver or parents addicted this powerful stimulant."

Coming up tonight at 6 on WSLS 10, we dig deeper into Southwest Virginia's meth problem and the impact it's having on local and state police.

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