COLUMBUS - Authorities have made 881 methamphetamine lab busts in Ohio this year, a 45 percent jump over 2012.
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation numbers Tuesday, noting that meth is becoming a drug of choice in the rural parts of the state.
Akron and surrounding communities in Summit County in northeastern Ohio led the state with 248 seized meth labs, or about one in every four seized labs in the state.
The numbers began to increase about five years ago when a new portable form of meth manufacturing allowed it to be made more quickly.
``It's an epidemic like I've never seen,'' said Charles Middleton, the chief deputy of Highland County Sheriff's Department in southwest Ohio, where officers found 76 labs.
``I've been doing this for 31 years, and I've never seen anything like it,'' he told the newspaper.
Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine said his office realizes that there are more labs that law enforcement never touched.
``We know that we didn't shut down every meth lab in the state last year,'' DeWine said.
``It's like anything in law enforcement, whether it is burglary or anything else, there are more that we didn't know about.''