Skip to comments.Methamphetamine Scourge Sweeps Rural America
Posted on 01/29/2005 10:32:26 PM PST by Mr. Mojo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Imagine that, with $100 worth of supplies bought from neighborhood stores, dealers could easily cook up $1,000 worth of a drug so addictive that users quickly descend into a hell of violence, crime and neglect.
That frightening scenario is the reality of methamphetamine, a drug that is sweeping rural America, spawning crime, child abuse and toxic pollution and ripping apart communities.
"It is out of control. It is a huge problem all across the United States," said Mike Logsdon, unit chief of an intelligence arm of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that collects data on the problem.
The drug, also known as crank, crystal, speed and ice, can be snorted, injected, smoked or swallowed. Within minutes, the user experiences a rush of energy and sense of well-being that can last up to 12 hours. But when it wears off, it leaves a feeling of deep depression and paranoia which makes the user desperate for another dose.
The scourge has taken hold in the last five years, and rural areas are bearing the brunt of the problem. Experts say that is primarily because meth is easy and cheap to make. Ingredients include readily accessible rock salt, battery acid, anhydrous ammonia and cold medicines. Recipes can be downloaded from the Internet.
As well, wide-open spaces in the country and small towns offer plentiful places to hide the drug activity.
"It's the first drug in the history of the United States we can make, distribute, sell, take, all here in the Midwest," said Detective Jason Grellner, of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department in Missouri, who seized 120 meth labs last year.
"You can't grow a coca plantation or an opium plantation here to get your heroin or cocaine, and marijuana takes four or five months to grow a good plant. With methamphetamine you can go out and for a couple hundred dollars you can make your drugs that day," Grellner said.
SWIFT AND SERIOUS
The problem descended on rural America with shocking suddenness. Sheriff Randy Krukow of Clay County in western Iowa said that in 1999, he had detected not a single meth-producing laboratory. By 2001, his force had broken up 56 in a county with a population of only 18,000.
For the fiscal year ending September 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration counted more than 16,800 methamphetamine-related seizures by law enforcement across the country, up from 15,300 in 2002.
"This is the most serious law enforcement problem we've ever faced in the history of our state because this substance is so addictive and so easy and cheap to make," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
"When we look at our prison population, 10 years ago nobody had even heard of it. Now 60 percent of our male inmates are users and we're building a brand new prison for female users," Stenehjem said.
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal recently told a statewide conference on combating the drug: "It doesn't matter where we go in the state, methamphetamine is there. The whole issue is eating us alive."
According to the Drug Trends Analysis Unit, an office in the Department of Justice, the highest numbers of meth labs are found in California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, all important farming states.
Clandestine labs were discovered in abandoned farms, in fields and ditches, vehicles, barns and even in 309 cases in hotel rooms. In one 2002 incident in North Dakota, an explosion set off a fire which destroyed the entire hotel.
In thousands of cases, people have been caught cooking the highly toxic chemicals in homes where children were present, breathing the poisonous fumes.
But these small mobile labs only scratch the surface of the problem. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 80 percent of the methamphetamine sold in the United States is produced in so-called 'super labs' in Mexico or California run by organized crime syndicates which cook up vast quantities.
"The wholesale abuse of the drug is serious enough. But when we factor is the toxic environmental effects from unregulated chemicals used in clandestine laboratories, we see that methamphetamine is taking a terrible toll. No community is immune," Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy chief of enforcement for the DEA told a congressional committee in November.
Each pound of methamphetamines produced yields another five to six pounds of toxic waste. Cleanup after labs are discovered can cost thousands of dollars apiece and can endanger the lives of police officers who lack the expertise required.
In an effort to stem meth production, at least 20 states are now trying to limit the amount of cold medicines and decongestants they will sell to individuals to two packets at any one time. Some states are requiring stores to take them off the shelves entirely.
In future, shoppers will have to ask a pharmacist for them directly. The measures are being vigorously opposed by the pharmaceutical industry.
Faced with a growing number of addicts, few rural communities have treatment facilities or funds to create them.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse is funding clinical trials in five U.S. cities in California, Hawaii and Missouri, hoping to find chemical and behavioral therapies to free users from their addictions.
Meth's economic costs can be significant as well. A study issued last month by the Sam Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas studied methamphetamine use in Benton County, the home of retailing giant Walmart Stores Inc. The survey found that lost productivity and absenteeism because of methamphetamine addiction was costing employers there more than $21 million a year.
You get an hour southwest of St. Louis, and you're in the Ozark foothills, lots of forests, small towns, and it's a HUGE problem. I think rural Missouri must be the worst place in the country for meth labs.
I have a modest proposal: the DEATH PENALTY for anyone producing significant quantities of methamphetamine.
Need to have the same regulations for meth that they used to have for crack otherwise this is going reap the same whirlwind.
The use of this stuff has reached epidemic proportions in California.
Rights, farms, environment ping.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.
I don't get offended if you want to be removed.
Tacoma WA would give rural MO a run for the money. Even up here on Whidbey Is. the problem isn't insignificant.
Ah, another benefit of our "open-borders" policy
*starts setting up shot after shot of Robitussin*
Meth users generally destroy the whole family due to credit theft, stealing and high bail costs.
DEATH for any quantity which can intoxicate 10 or more persons. Then this will stop cold.
Most drugs don't originate in this country to begin with so yes this is a borders issue.
For some reason it's a club drug among the gay men in the Village. I've seen the posters on bus stands whenever I go there. Also, out at Stony Brook, some girls take it to lose weight. If they only see what some women look like after taking meth :( I know of one girl who has all sorts of neurological disorders,etc. because of a former meth addiction. It's a SICKENING drug.
Yeah, gotta close that California border soon!
Death penalty? When the average murderer in the USA only serves 14 years?
We've had the death penalty for years... over a decade... for "drug kingpins". As you can see, it didn't work.
Read a article the other day that stated that of all the addictive drugs....that meth was the "one" that had a extremely low rehab rate......something like only 5% of users can kick it, even with proper rehab and medical. They said that users just can't get off the crap........
With that kind of addictive record of pretty much permanent self destruction one would think this problem would solve it'self eventually.....dang.
Battery Acid! Ooo Ooo I wanna ingest some!
I can't believe people sometimes.
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