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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina law enforcement officials say an easier way to produce the drug methamphetamine has prompted a record number of meth lab busts across the state.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports there were 344 meth lab busts in 2011, a 57 percent increase from 2006, when new laws were passed restricting the purchase of the drug’s key ingredient.

Attorney General Roy Cooper says the laws are effective in curbing large-scale meth operations. But a method where the drug can be mixed in two-liter soda bottles means the overall number of operations has grown.

With 34 recorded meth lab busts, Burke County had the most in North Carolina last year. Watauga County was second with 22 busts.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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