BOISE -- Methamphetamine use is a problem that has plagued Idaho since the 1990s. As meth gained popularity, so did the home meth lab. People were creating the drug in their homes using household chemicals.
That is no longer the trend. Meth is now a major item for the Mexican drug cartels.
Meth is one of the most addictive drugs out there. The Idaho Meth Project says in 2008, people did not know the dangers of methamphetamine use and the dangers of living near a meth lab.
When the Idaho Meth Project first started, one of the biggest issues in Idaho was home meth labs, said Gina Heideman, Executive Director of the Idaho Meth Project.
The Idaho Meth Project collected data that showed how this has changed to a a significant, steady drop in the number of meth house busts in Idaho.
Meth labs are down tremendously, said Heideman. In fact, Idaho had one of the lowest meth lab rates in the country last year, and this year we're on track to have even less.
The number of meth house busts from 1999 to present day, peaked in 2000 with 186 busts. This year, there have only been three, and Heideman credits this change to the crackdown on the sale of pseudo-ephedrine.
In every single state in the U.S. that has put pseudo ephedrine behind the counter, they've seen a reduction in home meth labs in their states. I think that was one of the best decisions that we made, Heideman said.
With limited access to the key ingredient, authorities are finding fewer meth labs. Most meth is coming in from outside Idaho and outside the US.
A lot of it is increasingly pure and linked to Mexican cartel activity, said Wendy Olson, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho. We're a further link up the chain from the most active groups along the border.
In the past year, law enforcement seized seven pounds of meth in Eagle, 12 pounds in Boise, and 52 pounds near Idaho Falls, just to name a few of the trafficking busts.
Olson said the meth trafficking is not isolated to one area of the state.
It's a problem that we face on many different levels, said Olson. It's people who are living here. It's people who are coming here, and I think because there's this addictive quality to it and a market for it. They'll find whatever communities they can to push the poison in.
Idaho State Police said the drop in meth lab busts lets them focus on the main problem, trafficking. Trafficking can cause an increase in violent crime with those involved, and an increase property crime as addicts try to get money to buy the drug.
There are plenty of people who, unfortunately, are still using meth and engaging in other kinds of criminal conduct, said Olson. So it's really a public safety problem, and a health problem, and a crime problem that really spreads its way through a lot of different parts of our community.
Idaho State Police detectives say meth prices were at an all-time high three years ago and are starting to drop again.
Meth is the most significant drug crime that Olson and her attorneys prosecute, and she said it's not slowing down.
Even with increased purity in some of the meth being trafficked from Mexico, drug experts still say you can never trust the source, and never know exactly what you are taking.