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  1. Alfa
    THE NEW MOONSHINE

    The issue Methamphetamine manufacture is reaching epidemic proportions
    in much of the country, especially in rural areas. We suggest The ease of
    manufacture and low cost of the highly-addictive stimulant should make this
    drug one of the highest priorities for law enforcement. There was a time
    when law enforcement officers combed the wooded hills and hollows of the
    Deep South in search of illegal whiskey stills.

    Today, a highly addictive and far more dangerous intoxicant has taken
    moonshine whiskey's place.

    Methamphetamine, like moonshine once was, is manufactured with a
    combination of products that are perfectly legal and harmless on their
    own. But when cooked in makeshift labs set up in houses and trailers,
    the result is -- literally -- explosive.

    Local law enforcement and federal Drug Enforcement Administration
    officers raided several houses in Florence last week, seizing
    methamphetamine, cocaine, money, firearms and vehicles. Nine people
    were arrested in connection with the raids.

    Officers estimate the value of the drugs at $1 million, a significant
    haul by local standards.

    Meth is highly addictive and can cause irreversible brain damage. Like
    moonshine whiskey, it's inexpensive, which makes it even more dangerous.

    Law enforcement and public health statistics show meth is most popular
    with white male blue-collar workers, the homeless, runaway teens and
    young adults who attend "raves" and private clubs.

    Last week's arrests are being added to a growing list of meth-related
    raids and seizures made by law enforcement in the past three years
    throughout northwest Alabama. The increasing frequency of the arrests
    should serve as a wake-up call to the entire community that a new and
    deadly threat has emerged.

    Northwest Alabama would appear to be especially susceptible to
    methamphetamine because of the high rate of joblessness and the
    remoteness of much of the region.

    Meth labs are relatively easy to assemble from readily-available parts
    from a hardware store. They require only a small amount of space and
    are not easily detected.

    They are, however, extremely dangerous to operate and pose a serious
    health threat to anyone who gets near them, especially children. Fires
    and explosions are not uncommon in meth labs and more and more cases
    of children being burned have been reported.

    As in many drug-related activities, the best method of detecting meth
    labs is public vigilance. Frequent traffic at a house at all hours of
    the day and night could be the indica
    tor that someone is selling
    methamphetamine or other drugs. A call to police or sheriff''s
    deputies could put a stop to it.

    Educating the public -- especially young people -- about the risks of
    meth is another important weapon in the fight.

    Law enforcement officers need everyone's help combating this menace.

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