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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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DEA sees big drop in meth lab busts

The Spokesman-Review

Small, toxic methamphetamine labs that overwhelmed rural and suburban communities in the past several years are disappearing as ingredients to make the drug become more difficult to find, federal law enforcement agents say.

New statistics released by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) show a 58 percent drop in meth labs and abandoned sites seized last year by police and U.S. agents, to 7,347. That indicator peaked nationwide in 2003, with 17,356 sites seized.

The DEA credits the decline to state and federal laws that restrict the sale of cold medicines and chemicals used to make methamphetamine and to increased law enforcement, spokesman Rusty Payne says.

But problems with meth remain. The percentage of the population known to have used meth in their lifetimes dropped only slightly from 4.9 percent in 2004 to 4.3 percent in 2005, the latest year figures are available from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. About 512,000 people use meth regularly. Most of the supply is smuggled into the country.

New Orleans

Repairing levees creates new risks

The government’s repairs to New Orleans’ hurricane-damaged levees may put the French Quarter in greater danger than it was before Hurricane Katrina, a weakness planners said couldn’t be helped, at least for now.

Experts say the stronger levees and flood walls could funnel storm water into the cul-de-sac of the Industrial Canal, only two miles from Bourbon Street, and overwhelm the waterway’s 12-foot-high concrete flood walls that shield some of the city’s most cherished neighborhoods.

“A system is much like a chain. We have strengthened some of the lengths, and those areas are now better protected,” said Robert Bea, a lead investigator of an independent National Science Foundation team that examined Katrina’s levee failures.

“When the chain is challenged by high water again, it will break at those weak links, and they are now next to some of the oldest neighborhoods, including the French Quarter.”


Greasy pig parts force road closure

A busy section of highway was closed for seven hours Sunday after a truck tipped over and spilled pig ears, pig feet and grease.

The greasy pig parts created slippery conditions and forced the closure of northbound lanes of the Edens Expressway.

The lanes were reopened Sunday afternoon.

A sudden shift in the truck’s load caused it to tip onto its side near an entrance ramp in Skokie, according to Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey. The Edens Expressway connects downtown Chicago to its northern suburbs.

No injuries were reported.

Transportation department workers used sand to absorb the grease, Claffey said.

They also sprayed a foam usually used in hazardous materials situations and spread rock salt to provide more traction.

“This is obviously something that’s really hard to clean up,” Claffey said.

From wire reports

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