Northwest Digest

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2007

ANCHORAGE - While the number of methamphetamine labs appears to be falling in Alaska, the amount seized has skyrocketed, leading officials to believe that users of the addictive drug may be turning to sources outside the state.

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Authorities seized 62 meth labs in Alaska in 2004, but the number fell to 45 the following year, federal Drug Enforcement Agency officer Harvey Goehring said.

The amount of meth seized statewide more than tripled during the same period, from 646 grams in 2004 to 2,292 grams in 2005.

The numbers suggest that Alaska meth users may be turning to large-scale meth suppliers Outside, according to a panel of experts at a forum at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Three months ago, for example, DEA agents in Anchorage seized a FedEx package from California containing $1 million worth of meth, or 11 pounds.

Cleaning up meth labs in Alaska has cost the DEA $750,000 since 2002, according to the agency's records. Two laws to crack down on meth have been passed in the past few years.

One requires landlords to meet state standards for removing meth contamination from their properties before they are occupied again. The second limits the amount of nonprescription cold medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine that can be purchased over the counter and requires retailers to maintain a logbook of buyers. It also increases sentences on people convicted of operating meth labs with children present.

Black bears headed for new Portland digs

MERLIN, Ore. - Three black bears found abandoned in Alaska years ago are headed for new multimillion-dollar digs at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

The female, Gerry, is about 20. The 500-pound males, Homer and Pete, were named after cities near where they were orphaned, Homer and Petersburg.

The $2 million zoo exhibit featuring the three bears is to open March 10. Black Bear Ridge is the final phase of a $36 million remodeling project of the Great Northwest exhibit that began in 1998.

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