Meth lab operators are moving into the country

Thursday, April 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Meth isn't just a problem facing authorities in Tulsa. Many meth producers who ran from the law here have now taken up roots in the country, and it appears business is booming.

KOTV's Sean Mossman says Chief Deputy Michael O'Keefe is one of the main drug investigators in Creek County. O'Keefe was busy Wednesday; busy busting three different meth labs in the same morning. He says methamphetamines consume nearly every hour he spends at work. "I'd say 70-80% of crime out in the county right now is somehow tied into drugs. Rarely do we get to a call where drugs are not involved." And Creek County is not alone in this fairly new fight.

Meth producers are either moving to, or starting up anew in rural counties. "They're moving out to the rural areas where the house are few and far between and the neighbors aren't gonna smell when you start cooking meth." Creek County Sheriff Steve Toliver says his small band of deputies can't even come close to controlling the spread of labs in his county. He says producers see the countryside as a safe haven for their operations. But, he also says the drugs their producing eventually find their way back onto city streets. "They're moving them either into the city of Sapulpa, the city of Bristow. They're moving them to Tulsa, Sand Springs. They're not using them out there." But, stopping the production of those drugs has now fallen on the shoulders of these rural counties. And, investigators, like Michael O'Keefe, now have to spend most of their mornings, busting several meth labs.

Authorities in Creek County are not alone. Wagoner County, Osage County and several other outlying counties report a massive increase in meth lab busts.