This is a map of "all meth clandestine laboratory incidents including labs, dumpsites, chem/glass/equipment" in the U.S. in 2012, by state. It was created by the DEA and is freely available on the website of the Department of Justice. Here, in no particular order, are some things we can take away from this map:
- Holy shit, Missouri.
- There is a "meth belt" in the midwest. It is real. And you, Missouri, are its buckle.
- No, seriously. Per capita, Missouri tallied over 300 meth incidents per million residents in 2012 — way more than any other state. Only Tennessee comes close, with 245 incidents per million res.
- Meth and religion are like peas and carrots. "This is the Bible belt," said Chris Yates, a former meth cook and Missouri resident in a 2012 interview with The Telegraph. "I really believe Satan works his hardest in the places where God is the strongest."
- With a total of 11,210 incidents nationwide, 2012's numbers were the lowest they've been since 2008. (Last year the DEA reported 13,390; and 15,196 the year before that.)
- Vermont thinks it's managed to "avoid the crystal meth epidemic." Maybe so, with just 4 incidents in 2012. But it's still Vermont.
- The map's uniform hue has nothing to do with Breaking Bad's 99% pure "Blue Sky" cook; the DEA's been using the same tragically monochrome (not to mention informationally bankrupt) color scheme since at least as early as 2004.
- Actually, let's talk per capita again for a second: California had just 2 incidents per million residents in 2012. We're not saying places like Missouri and Tennesee don't have a pretty awful Meth problem (we've talked to people from each state — it's a very real, very rampant issue), we just can't help but wonder whether California, and every other state on this map, is operating under its own definition of "incident."
- Don't do meth. Meth is bad.
- In 2008, the year Breaking Bad premiered, the DEA reported a total of 8,810 meth incidents nationwide — down from 23,829 incidents as recently as 2004. There's an urban legend that crime rates in Baltimore would drop whenever The Wire came on, because all the city's drug dealers were busy watching the show. Maybe something similar happened with Breaking Bad?
- Probably not. In fact, numbers haven't been under 10,000 incidents per year ever since.
- Does anyone know if that Tuscaloosa meth cook who was actually named Walter White — like, in real life — was ever apprehended? If so, we're assuming he accounts for 1/192 of Alabama's total meth incidents.
- The other time Breaking Bad happened in real life was back in 2011 in Somerville, MA — an incident which, that year, must have accounted for a full half of the state's total meth "incidents." For that map, see here.
- We really miss Breaking Bad. Summer, get here sooner.
- Delaware doesn't exist. It's not a real place.
More Meth Maps, dating back to 2004, on the DEA's website.