MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Typically, drugs tend to start out west, then make their way north, then they'll finally trickle down south, according to officials.
And that's what we're seeing -- a consistent uptick in meth busts in South Carolina and our nearby counties.
Myrtle Beach Police Department leaders say as more officers are trained to detect and dismantle meth labs, that's adding to the increase. Because officers are spotting more labs, which might have gone unnoticed before.
According to SLED, there have been at least 46 meth lab busts in Horry County since tracking began in 2011. There were 13 just last year. And according to state records, meth busts have increased every year.
Lt. Joey Crosby with Myrtle Beach Police says over the past few years, increasing education among the public and law enforcement has definitely helped in finding and shutting down these labs before it's too late. And that is especially proving true when it comes to portable labs, as those are making it harder to track because of how easily they can be concealed and moved.
The artificial drug is made from toxic materials, which can cause serious harm to the makers, users, and innocent bystanders. One of the biggest giveaways to look for is when someone has excessive amounts of the typical ingredients to make meth.
These ingredients usually include very common household cleaners that are also very flammable. Also look for lots of cut open batteries used for lithium. And sudafedrin is a necessary main ingredient. And be sure to look for lots of bottles with sludge or hoses in them, those are what police refer to as mobile labs or "shake and bakes".
"The drug itself is very dangerous. In addition to the drug, the labs itself also pose a danger. Not just to the person cooking the drug but also those that are around it. So if you have a neighbor that's doing this, that poses a danger to your house because the lab can easily ignite and cause an explosion. Whether they're in the house or car or wherever they're cooking at that point. They pose a danger to the person cooking and also the community," says Lt. Crosby.
Meth isn't just dangerous, it's costly, too. According to SLED, in the past year, it has cost tax payers in South Carolina $3 million dollars to clean up meth labs across the state.