Law enforcement found four meth labs in Utah in fiscal year 2007, according to figures released this week. They found 272 in fiscal 1999.
Also, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported traffickers have increased the price of meth to $1,200 to $1,500 per ounce. The drug cost about $700 per ounce in late 2005, according to the DEA.
It's less clear whether Utah has reduced the use of meth. As of October 2007, the number of workplace positive tests was about 50 percent higher than five years earlier. But that October 2007 rate was about half of what it was 18 months earlier.
Scott Burns, deputy director of the federally-ran National Drug Control Policy and a former Iron County attorney, was schedule to join Utah officials in a press conference this afternoon in Salt Lake City.
Utah is among the states who in recent years began regulating the sale of over-the-counter medicines which can be ingredients in meth - most notably the cold medication pseudoephedrine. Police have credited the regulations with reducing meth labs in Utah but have said it created a meth-making market in Mexico.
Increased patrolling of the Mexican-American border has made it more difficult to smuggle drugs into the United States. With some financing from the United States, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has made efforts to fight drugs in his country, deploying soldiers to fight drug cartels and disarming police forces suspected of working for traffickers.
Rick Van Schoik, director of North American Center for Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, said its too early to say U.S. foreign aid or domestic regulation is impacting the price of illegal drugs. Many factors can influence the price of drugs, he said, such as problems within the cartels, unannounced law enforcement operations or temporary transportation problems.
"There's a million things that affect it," Van Schoik said. "It's things that you and I would not be aware of."
Statistics released this week paint a less successful picture for prescription drug abuse in Utah. The office of drug control policy says unlawful prescription drug use in Utah increased in the last year.