New law cracks down on meth lab operators

Methamphetamine lab operators will now face felony charges if emergency workers are injured inside their laboratory, according to Stat Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).

The governor approved House Bill 2841 (Public Act 93-0111) on July 8. It provides for a Class X felony on meth and other illegal drug lab owners if an emergency service provider, such as a fireman, police officer or paramedic, “experiences death, great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement” as a result of entering their clandestine structure. Those convicted of Class X felonies face a jail term of between six and 30 years.

“Meth poses a double danger to our society,” Syverson said. “Not only is it an addictive drug, but it is extremely toxic and dangerous to make. Since meth is relatively easy to produce, many amateurs try to manufacture it. Because these individuals have little practical knowledge of how flammable chemicals and drugs interact with each other, their labs become ticking time bombs, both for themselves and any emergency responders who might enter their building.”

Methamphetamines are powerful synthetic drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. Unlike many other narcotics, which are grown and processed abroad before being transported into the United States, meth is typically produced within our country’s borders. Over-the-counter cold medications, drain cleaners and other easily accessible products often go into the production of meth.

The 1990s experienced an explosion of so-called “mom-and-pop” meth labs in the Midwest. Illinois saw the number of meth lab seizures increase from 24 in 1997 to more than 600 in 2001. Meth lab explosions, the result of the highly toxic chemical mixtures needed to make the narcotic, have also jumped dramatically in recent years.

“The bottom line is this law will severely punish meth lab owners if their illegal operations cause injury or death to emergency service providers,” Syverson said. “Police officers, firemen and paramedics risk their safety every day to save lives. The least we can do is give them a little more protection as well.”

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