This extensive investigation showed that Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration could have stopped methamphetamine growth across the West during the 1990s and still can. The newspaper explained how the drug is able to be controlled because it relies on chemical ingredients produced by only a handful of factories worldwide. Two clampdowns on the legal trade of the chemicals caused meth shortages, prompting users to quit and meth-related property crime to fall. But the drug trade survived because of loopholes and lax enforcement. The scope of this story includes examinations of DEA drug seizures, DEA-registered sellers of the drug, ephedrine drug shipments, ephedrine seizures, congressional records, the federal budget, federal audits, property tax records, patents, academic studies and public policy.