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Feds suggest using other grant money to cover meth lab clean-up money cuts

4 years ago March 29, 2011 Mar 29, 2011 Tuesday, March 29 2011 Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:18:34 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

LIVINGSTON-  The feds are suggesting a solution to a cut in methamphetamine lab clean-up money that News 2 told you about a month ago.

But authorities here say it won't work.

Federal budget cuts left the Drug Enforcement Agency without millions to pay professionals to pick up meth labs.  That money was sent to local sheriff's offices to clean up meth labs after they were discovered.  Some agencies have stopped going after labs, while others are still shelling out the payments from their own strained budgets.

The Department of Justice says even though the money set aside for meth lab clean-ups is gone, grant money, known as JAG money, set aside for other things, like overtime and equipment, can fill the gap.

But deputies say it's not that easy.

Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Criminal Deputy Jason Ard said, "We don't just get money and then turn around and say because we got it now we can dedicate it to this, it doesn't work that way."

Livingston Parish has made due by finding a new contractor to do the same work for about a quarter of the cost.  But even though they're able to keep up these lab busts on their own dime, Livingston still hopes Congress puts the money back where it needs to be.

"Anytime we can save money we wanna do so, but we're in the business of dealing with criminals and these meth labs and stuff like that and we can't afford not to do our job," said Ard.

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