[IMGL=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=1242&pictureid=12410"][/IMGL]Old habits die hard, and that’s why Richard Harvill is just the kind of person narcotics agents with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office are looking for.
The 40-year-old Titusville man was arrested last month for cooking methamphetamine, a little more than six months after his release from prison on similar charges.
Drug agents with the sheriff’s office scour the lists of released prisoners sent out by the Department of Corrections every month, looking for specific names.
This year will be crucial, they said, in determining the scope of the methamphetamine problem in Brevard County. That’s because 2011 is the year that many of the meth cooks arrested as part of crackdown efforts that started in 2005 will start getting released from prison after serving their three-year minimum mandatory sentences.
This year will be a good indication of the rate of recidivism because those guys convicted of manufacturing meth are now getting out, said Lt. Vic DeSantis, who oversees the narcotics unit.
Harvill, who spent 36 months in prison as part of a plea deal stemming from a 2007 arrest, was busted again for having a meth lab in his home.
Agents said he was manufacturing the drug in his bedroom and dining room. They said he was creating eight bottles of the drug at once, a much larger quantity than normal.
These small amount of cooks coming out of prison, these are the guys we are concerned about, DeSantis said. Mr. Harvill is a perfect example.
Harvill wasn’t the only person re-arrested by agents this year. A meth lab discovered Jan. 21 in Viera resulted in the arrests of 32-year-old Jessica White and 33-year-old Bryan Shepherd. Shepherd was arrested on similar charges in October and was awaiting trial on those charges at the time of the latest arrest. White has previous arrests for possession of heroin and manufacturing meth — both in 2009. Charges were dropped.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug — known as “crank” or “ice” — that is created by combining toxic materials such as brake fluid and Drano with cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine. The “meth high” is often compared to cocaine. Users inject or smoke it. Some also snort it.
The toxic environment created during the manufacturing process is as dangerous as the drug itself, causing agents to don protective suits and have the fire department on hand when they execute a bust.
Recipes for the drug are readily available on the Internet, but the number of people manufacturing the drug locally has dropped steadily since a 2005 grant enabled the sheriff’s office to dedicate more manpower to closing down meth labs. Sentencing guidelines instituted around the same time ensure those convicted would serve at least three years.
The $450,000 federal grant was awarded to a joint venture between the sheriff’s office and the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office to help pay for overtime costs, equipment fees and an additional assistant state attorney to handle meth cases. Meth-fighting expenses run high in part because of the cleanup required given the toxic materials used to make it. Officials said it can cost up to $20,000 to clean up one lab.
The grant had immediate results. Between 2005 and 2007, Brevard County led the state in shutting down meth labs.
The eradications were the direct result of aggressive law enforcement and focus on an emerging criminal trend, said Wayne Ivey, Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s resident agent in charge for Brevard County. A large segment of the meth cooks that were sentenced as a result of these cases received minimum mandatory sentences of three years, making them potentially eligible for release in 2011. Law enforcement in Brevard County, and even across the state, is positioned to monitor any impact these releases could have.
DeSantis said his agents are monitoring lists of released inmates.
The guys capable of cooking meth is a small population, and the number of users grows exponentially with the number of cooks, DeSantis said. There is no distribution network per say, there is no profit margin.
That means the cooks themselves use the drug and often sell only to their close circle of friends. That is due, in part, to paranoia — one of the drug’s side effects, DeSantis said. Other telltale signs of meth use include rotting teeth, pasty skin, weight loss, poor hygiene and numerous scabs.
The scabs are from delusional parasitosis, DeSantis said. One of the sensations is the feeling that there are bugs crawling under your skin. He explained users often will scratch until they break through their skin.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Wayne Holmes commended the sheriff’s office for being vigilant and said it was important to monitor the people coming out of prison. He said something else, in addition to law enforcement efforts, has kept the meth numbers down.
The substantial thing that happened was that the availability of the drug needed to make methamphetamine has been severely limited, Holmes said, explaining that medications containing pseudoephedrine — a key meth ingredient — were once easily purchased over the counter, but are now more restricted.
My concern, he continued, is that these people getting released from prison are going to start going after the drugs that are easier to get, like prescription pills. Hardly a case goes by where there isn’t a pill involved.
Despite the small profit margin from meth and its dangerous nature, DeSantis said he wouldn’t be surprised to see an escalation in its manufacturing.
In the early 1980s, people didn’t think there would be such a big market for crack, DeSantis said. When you look at the effects of meth on the users and the community, it totally justifies what we do. They endanger the neighborhood. And people do silly things to use drugs and to get drugs. It never stops. It’s the nastiest drug we have to deal with.
4th Feb 2011http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110204/NEWS01/102040320/1006/Deputies+keep+close+eye+on+meth+cooks+fresh+out+of+prison
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