Pubdate: Tue, 06 Sep 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Kerra Bolton
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


RALEIGH -- The number of methamphetamine production labs and reported rapes 
have increased in the past year, according to statistics released this 
morning from the state Attorney General's office.

Methamphetamine is a growing problem in the state. So far this year, state 
agents have found 251 labs. This compares to the 322 labs that were shut 
down last year and nine labs that were discovered in 1999 when the epidemic 
first began in the state.

The General Assembly approved last week regulations that place popular cold 
medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, key ingredients in 
making the illegal drug, behind a pharmacist's counter.

"We're pushing back against the criminals by aggressively shutting down the 
labs and making it harder for the crooks to get the supplies they use to 
cook this toxic drug," said Attorney General Roy Cooper. "Now we must 
concentrate on fighting meth trafficking as well."

The number of reported rapes has increased in North Carolina by 7.5 
percent. Sexual assault crimes are regularly underreported, according to 
advocacy groups and law enforcement, so increases in the number could 
reflect more accurate reporting as well as more assaults, Cooper said.

"Either way, the statistics are troubling," Cooper said.

Despite these trends the overall crime rate in the state decreased by 2.9 
percent. However, there is an 8 percent spike in the city of Asheville and 
a 2 percent decrease in Buncombe County.
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MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman