ELKHART — Indiana is known for corn, basketball, Notre Dame and now... meth labs?
A report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol showed that Indiana reported 1,797 meth-related incidents in 2013 - more than any other state in the country.
The incidents include meth labs, dump sites, glassware and chemical seizures reported to the National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System. The system depends on states to report meth incidents, so the numbers may not be 100 percent accurate.
In Elkhart County, meth isn't out of control, but it is a noticeable problem, Patrolman Matthew Walsh with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department said.
"I'm not dealing solely with meth labs all day, everyday," he said in a phone interview Tuesday. "But I see it enough that it is a problem."
The Interdiction and Covert Enforcement (ICE) Unit deals with drug investigations, but some patrolmen take a proactive approach to meth busts.
Walsh said there are certain people he knows that purchase pseudoephedrine - an allergy drug that is also a key ingredient in methamphetamine - to use it for making meth and when they buy it, he gets a real-time email notification of the NPLEx record that shows when and where that person bought the medicine.
And while everyone who purchases pseudoephedrine in Indiana has to show an ID and be entered into a national database, Walsh doesn't think that it's really deterring meth manufacturing or use, but making pseudoephedrine a prescription would.
"I'm a firm believer that if we were to make pseudoephedrine a prescription that it would pretty much kill our meth problem," he said. And while some allergy sufferers may have to pay more for medicine that helps them, Walsh thinks it's a fair cost to pay.
"What is the cost on society that meth is creating?" he said.
Community vigilance would also help reduce meth making and meth use in Elkhart County.
Smell is a key way to detect meth or meth trash. The smell is usually similar to ammonia or ether.
"Basically, if you smell something in a house that smells like it should be in a garage, there's something weird going on," Walsh said.
If someone smells something, sees suspicious activity or comes across trash in the open that includes a bunch of bags inside of it or has a bottle with a tube coming out of it, they should immediately call the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department's non-emergency number at 574-891-2100.
What do you think would help reduce or get rid of meth making and meth use in Elkhart County?