Illinois lawmakers stiffened criminal penalties for meth production in the midwestern state starting in the mid-2000s, when rural production was the main driver of meth abuse around the country.
This prompted meth producers to change their approach to “one-pot” meth production, in which a large soda bottle is used to manufacture a small amount of the drug. This is extremely dangerous. These types of unstable labs tended to produce toxic chemicals or explode. With more law enforcement crackdown, many of the domestic labs were shuttered.
Now, a good amount of the meth in the U.S. comes from other countries. Super labs produce large amounts of pure meth in other countries, primarily Mexico. Cartels have taken over sending meth into the United States, including all over Illinois. Chicago is one of the largest cities in the state, so it is often seen as a distribution point for drugs.
A dip in reports of meth seizures between 2011 and 2013 suggested that abuse of the stimulant was going away, but in 2014, meth reports went up: from 278 in 2013, to 367 in 2014. Then, in 2015, there were 620 reports of meth among seized items during arrests. In 2016, that rose to 761 reports. In 2017, there were an astonishing 1,320 reports of meth seized in drug busts in Chicago.