CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- According to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, meth lab busts reached a record high in 2012, and the AG's office blames it on a new method of manufacturing.

The simpler method of meth manufacturing, known as the one-pot method, is making the distribution of smaller amounts of methamphetamine available statewide, officials say.

Attorney General Roy Cooper says that at the same time, the tracking of pseudoephedrine purchases is helping to stop illegal sales and is leading law enforcement to more meth labs.

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation responded to 460 meth labs in 2012, compared to 344 in 2011. Of the 460 labs busted, approximately 73 percent of them used the one-pot method.

One-pot labs, also known as shake and bake labs, make significantly smaller amounts of meth than previously seen larger labs. Officials say meth cooks can make the illegal substance using a plastic soda bottle and small amounts of pseudoephedrine.

Prevention efforts have helped hold down the number of larger meth labs, but small ones are still very dangerous, Cooper said, We need more law enforcement, better public awareness, and continued use of technology to fight this crime.

The electronic system that tracks pseudoephedrine purchases blocked approximately 54,000 purchases, more than 66,000 boxes of the cold medicine in 2012, and officials say that amount could have produced more 277 pounds of methamphetamine.

Locally, the Attorney General's Office says 26 labs were busted in Catawba County, 21 in Anson County, 13 labs in Union County and 7 in Gaston County. Catawba and Cleveland Counties were among the top five with the largest increase of labs busted year over year.

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