Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "Methamphetamine" ...

  • Merchants of Meth

    I exposed a concerted and well-funded campaign by the country’s leading pharmaceutical companies to defeat bills in Congress and state legislatures that were aimed at stopping the spread of toxic methamphetamine labs. At issue? Pseudoephedrine sales. The popular decongestant is the one key ingredient needed to make homemade meth. It also generates revenue for major pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck of more than $600 million a year. Fuelled by easy access to pseudoephedrine, the number of meth labs in the United States has increased by more than 60 percent since 2007. Thanks in large part to pharmaceutical industry lobbying, there has been no federal legislation to address the spread of meth labs since 2005. In 2006, Oregon successfully moved to restrict meth cooks’ access to pseudoephedrine by making it a prescription drug, despite heavy lobbying against the bill from the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, the number of meth labs in the state has fallen drastically—by more than 90 percent. Faced with the mounting social, law enforcement, and environmental costs associated with meth, legislators in at least 25 other states sought to pass similar laws. But pharmaceutical lobbyists fought back, and in all but one state—Mississippi—the bills were defeated. My reporting examined how the industry has set state lobbying spending records as it has deployed a new kind of lobbying strategy to block regulation of pseudoephedrine. Instead of focusing their efforts on courting politicians, they have taken their message directly to voters, deploying thousands of robocalls in key electoral districts and large ad buys in major media markets for advertising across multiple platforms from radio to the Internet. Their messaging, I found, was deceptive, failing to even mention that the proposed bills had to do with combatting the meth epidemic. I also examined the results of an electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking database known as NPLEx, which is meant to prevent excessive purchasing. While it’s the only reform to ever earn backing from the pharmaceutical industry, I found a system full of holes that has been ineffective at preventing the spread of meth labs in virtually every state that has adopted it.
  • Supplement Shell Game

    An investigation by USA TODAY reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed. And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminals turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.
  • Undisclosed Hazards

    While methamphetamine production has been on the rise in New York and Pennsylvania, there are no federal or state rules about what makes a former meth lab clean, and no law requiring landlords or property sellers to disclose to renters or buyers that a property was once a meth lab. Employees at state or local government agencies contacted for the report thought other state or local agencies are responsible for overseeing or mandating cleanup, but the task is mostly left to local code enforcement departments, who have no guidance from their states.
  • Supplement Shell Game

    An investigation by USA TODAY reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed. And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminals turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.
  • The Meth Menace

    Following a significant increase in meth lab seizures in West Virginia, Charleston Gazette reporters revealed that drugstores were selling massive quantities of cold medications that were being diverted to make illegal methamphetamine in clandestine labs. Gazette reporters also found that meth lab cleanup claims were draining the West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund -- a fund initially set up to pay medical and funeral expenses for victims of violent crime. The series sparked a federal investigation.
  • Off Track: Clandestine Racing in California

    This story delved into an unknown world of illegal and clandestine horse racing happening on private tracks throughout the state of California. The straight-track races occur on properties throughout the state. KCRA uncovered a world where drug deals, prostitution, illegal gambling and animal cruelty are the norm. KCRA got the point of view of investigators and a veterinary scientist who found that horses were being dosed with mixtures of cocaine and methamphetamine. Added to this was the fact that few local law enforcement know it's happening and state investigators don't have the resources to stop the racing from happening.
  • The Terrorism Trade-Off

    "The Seattle P-I chronicled how the Bush Administration is paying for its domestic War on Terror by gutting the FBI's traditional crime-fighting capabilities."
  • Question of Justice

    A senior probation and parole officer obtained for her son a sentence of five and a half months of drug rehabilitation instead of the 20-years-to-life sentence standard for the Class A Felony he committed.
  • Meth Alert

    This investigation examined the enforcement and effectiveness of a new Indiana law meant to restrict the purchase of materials used to make methamphetamine. It tested stores' compliance with the law and communication between stores to track abusers, as well as maintenance of ephedrine logs.
  • The Perfect Drug

    This investigation is an in-depth look at the role methamphetamine plays in Phoenix, Arizona. The reporters explored and dispelled various myths about the drug. They also traced the community's problem to a Mexican supply, and found that the drug even had a presence in elementary school.