The mostly amateur manufacturers of methamphetamine create health and safety risks to their communities. The ingredients used to make the drug are highly explosive and just one pound of finished methamphetamine produces five to six pounds of toxic waste material, which is often carelessly discarded with no concern for the risk to groundwater and to air.
Blagojevich and the bills’ sponsors believe the two new bills, plus legislation signed earlier this summer, will give law enforcement the tools needed to aggressively prosecute persons who make methamphetamine or aid in its manufacture.
House Bill 2843, sponsored by state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, and state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Quincy, expands the law prohibiting the manufacturing of meth and allows prosecutors to charge everyone involved in illegal meth labs.
The new law has four main components:
- Expands the law that prohibits tampering with anhydrous ammonia equipment and containers to cover any “attempts to vent” the substance,
- Increases the penalty for tampering with anhydrous ammonia equipment from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony,
- Adds red phosphorous to the list of methamphetamine manufacturing chemicals covered by the law, and
- Creates a new crime – “criminal synthetic drug manufacturing conspiracy” – that applies to individuals who aid in the manufacture of a controlled substance. For example, this provision would apply to those who help obtain or transport ingredients, or allow their property to be used for manufacturing drugs.
“With these changes to the law, everyone involved in helping operate meth labs in our communities can be charged with a crime and held accountable for their actions,” Blagojevich said.
The governor also signed House Bill 561, sponsored by state Rep. Donald Moffit, R-Galesburg, and state Sen. George Shadid, D-Pekin, which gives prosecutors another tool in bringing meth-manufacturers to justice. Now the list of chemicals that are considered by law to be “methamphetamine manufacturing chemicals” will also be defined as “explosive compounds or incendiary devices,” meaning that those in possession of meth chemicals also can be charged with possession of explosive compounds – a Class 1 felony.
“The Illinois State Police estimate that nearly 20 percent of meth labs are eventually discovered because the chemicals end up causing a fire,” Blagojevich said. “That poses a serious threat to neighbors and will now result in serious criminal charges against perpetrators.”
The legislation acted on today was supported by numerous law enforcement organizations, including the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Sheriffs Association.
“By working together with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the law enforcement community and legislators, we’ve been able to make strides in our long-term goal of ending the serious threat methamphetamine makers are to our communities,” the governor said.