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Laws change way users get their drug of choice

By renegades, Feb 24, 2007 | |
  1. renegades
    Laws change way users get their drug of choice
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Published Sunday, February 18th, 2007[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]By Nathan Isaacs, Herald staff writer[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Methamphetamine remains the drug of choice in the Mid-Columbia. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]In Thursday's criminal docket for Benton County Superior Court, 35 percent or 50 of the 141 court cases were for meth-related charges: either possession of meth, delivery of meth or for manufacturing meth. Meth-related charges accounted for 15 percent of Franklin County's criminal docket Tuesday. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]How users get their drug of choice, however, has changed in recent years, following regional and national trends. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]In the past, police found mom-and-pop meth labs in vehicles, backpacks, hotel rooms and just about any type of home imaginable -- from trailers in mobile home parks to large homes in some of the Tri-Cities' most unsuspecting neighborhoods.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]They even found meth labs in boats on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Police also found just as many hazardous waste sites, where meth cooks dumped the drug's byproducts. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Law enforcement and state lawmakers have responded. The Benton County Sheriff's Office created its Meth Abatement Team, which worked with area stores in tracking people buying or stealing the ingredients used in making the drug. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Other departments created special police units, such as Richland's Proactive Anti-Crime Team, to go after "meth-heads," as the addicts are called. Kennewick police and other agencies assigned detectives to work street-level meth investigations. They also sent detectives to the Metro Drug Task Force to go after larger drug dealers and suppliers. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Based on the success of the Meth Abatement Team and examples from Oklahoma and other states, state lawmakers in 2005 passed a law that moved pseudoephedrine -- meth's main ingredient -- behind store drug counters and required shoppers to provide identification if they wanted to buy the cold medicine. Lawmakers also set longer jail sentences for those convicted of making the drug. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The result? [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Seized meth labs in Benton County have been on the decline since 2002's peak of 87 seized labs. The county reported one seized lab in 2006. Franklin County has not seized a meth lab in the last three years. Those numbers don't include the sites where labs have been dumped. That would have pushed the number above 100 in 2002 and to three in 2006. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"That drastically changed meth in Benton County and across the state," Detective Larry Smith, a member of Benton County's Meth Abatement Team, said of the new state law. "We still have meth out there. It is just coming in from different sources." [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The primary source, police say, is Mexico and what are called super labs, which can make hundreds of pounds of the drug on a daily basis. In December, officials seized a huge shipment of pseudoephedrine being smuggled into Mexico. It was enough pseudoephedrine to make a meth dose for everyone in America, officials reported. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"Because of the new laws, the drugs are being made mostly in Mexico," said Capt. Charles Kissler with the Benton County Sheriff's Office. "They are making a product that can compete with the cost of the home labs." [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Police regularly report finding the drug when making an arrest. Richland police recorded 460 incidents of drug-related crimes in 2006, which was a 33 percent increase from the 347 reported in 2005. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Smith said meth users also are committing other crimes -- mostly thefts -- to raise money for buying the drug. Kissler said the recent spikes in scrap metal thefts is attributed to meth users taking advantage of climbing metal prices. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]It was a suspended license and a stolen generator, purchased illegally with a false identification, that led Richland police last month to arrest three people and seize more than 100 grams of imported meth, illegal prescription pills, marijuana, stolen video games, three illegal guns and ammo for a fourth gun. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Meth is being brought into the Tri-Cities in vehicles that have secret compartments reminiscent of those seized during the drug wars against marijuana and cocaine years ago, said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Smith said that response and counter response between police and criminals in the drug wars has been the case for decades. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor, however, promised to "maintain our attack on the problem."[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Well the problem here is the press starts name calling by saying police are targeting meth heads as the addicts are called.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Now do you really believe this? In December, officials seized a huge shipment of pseudoephedrine being smuggled into Mexico. It was enough pseudoephedrine to make a meth dose for everyone in America, officials reported. Who did the math? [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Notice this statement - Richland police recorded 460 incidents of drug-related crimes in 2006, and swim thought we were talking about meth crimes not drug-related crimes get back on topic. The press slip that one in to make the problem sound even bigger without caring whether it was relevant to the article.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]And this rallying cheer from the tri-state herald [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]that "Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor, however, promised to "maintain our attack on the problem."[/FONT]

    boy one feels good knowing that Larry Taylor is looking to mop up some meth heads.

    But, Larry Taylor what about the crack heads and coke heads whose base of users is at least 6 times that of meth. Don't they steal for head stash? Why are the press singling out meth, is because it has been rumored that the Bush Administration will abandoned their plans to enforce the supreme court decision on medicinal pot and focus on meth instead and the press is just following the spin.

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