By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Adams County is no longer the methamphetamine capital of Illinois.
After having more meth lab seizures than any other county in the state for three years in a row, Adams County fell to second on the list in 2013.
Statistics compiled by the Illinois State Police show Madison County in the metro east area of St. Louis led the state with 80 clandestine lab seizures. Meanwhile, Adams County had 72 labs seized, an 8.3 percent decline from the 78 labs found in 2012.
Patrick Frazier, a master sergeant with the Illinois State Police in charge of the West Central Illinois Task Force, said officers remain busy despite the small decrease.
"I didn't notice any change, to tell you the truth," Frazier said. "Maybe it was because we were working some different cases, too. We saw a little bit of ice (crystal meth), which wouldn't count toward a meth lab seizure. We're also seeing a little more heroin in the area.
"We're just as busy, but it's good that the numbers are down a little bit."
Madison County more than doubled its meth lab seizures from 2012, when it had only 36. Statewide, meth lab seizures fell for the first time in five years. There were 753 labs found last year, a decrease of 4.1 percent from the 785 found in 2012. More than a quarter of the labs seized were from the top three counties -- Madison, Adams and Vermillion, which is in east-central Illinois, and recovered 51 labs.
Meth lab activity from collar counties surrounding Adams County also was down last year. Brown County and Pike County recovered two labs each, while none were found in Hancock County. Hancock County found 10 labs in 2012, Pike County three and Brown County none.
Statewide, 775 meth-related arrests were made during 2013, while 605,238.23 grams of liquid meth and 71,113.8 grams of finished meth was seized by police. Twenty-six firearms were seized as part of search warrants, while 80 children statewide were exposed to meth manufacturing.
Adams, Brown, Pike and Hancock counties are part of Zone 4, which covers a 21-county area in the middle of the state. Zone 4 officers made 259 arrests in 169 lab seizures. Zone 4 officers seized 27,796.1 grams of liquid meth and 3,107.65 grams of finished meth. Seventeen firearms were seized by Zone 4 officers, and 27 children in the zone were exposed to meth manufacturing.
BY THE NUMBERS
A look at the number of clandestine lab seizures made by the Illinois State Police Meth Response Teams since 2006.
2013 ... 753
2012 ... 785
2011 ... 573
2010 ... 457
2009 ... 448
2008 ... 390
2007 ... 446
2006 ... 786
Source: Illinois State Police