The case against methamphetamine. For Rowan County, NC, there were two recent busts. Here is a letter alerting local officials to the curse of meth. Also, Charlotte Observer recent report. March 13, 2000. This is a major worry for parents as kids use this highly addictive drug to get work done. They can stay up on it for days and be very productive. So stressful events like those around exams can be high risk. So don't push kids so hard to score well if it invites kids to use meth.


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Valley meth-making at a rolling boil By Michael G. Mooney, Bee staff writer California produces more than 90 percent of the nation's methamphetamine, an insidious drug capable of transforming even the most caring Jekyll into a brutish Hyde. Here's another sobering statistic: Of the 55 large-scale methamphetamine labs busted nationwide last year, 46 were in California. Most of those were found in the Central Valley. Coupled with the fact that methamphetamine, once known as the "poor man's cocaine," no longer confines itself to the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, such numbers finally have grabbed politicians by the lapels. If only that were enough.
"The truth is," one high-ranking federal official told The Bee, "we probably know more about the drug trade in Colombia than we do here." While federal, state and local agencies struggle to share information and coordinate their efforts, the so-called super labs -- those capable of producing more than 100 pounds of meth in a single "cooking" -- continue to proliferate in the Central Valley despite the best efforts of law enforcement. That's why Rep. Calvin Dooley, D-Hanford, wants the Eastern District of California, which includes the Central Valley, declared a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats, support the designation. While Dooley's request remains under consideration by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, funding would not be available before 2000.
In the meantime, local law enforcement agencies, working in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal and state agencies, are having some success in disrupting in the production and distribution of methamphetamine. "Between FY (fiscal year) 96 and FY97," Dooley wrote in an April 30 letter to McCaffrey, "methamphetamine lab seizures increased by 97 percent. In FY97, two-thirds of all DEA arrests in the Eastern District were meth-related." Still, without better coordination among the various law enforcement agencies, improved training and more resources, officials say California faces the prospect of winning the battle while losing the war.
Federal officials believe Mexican organized crime is behind much of the meth trade. But pinpointing the ringleaders has been difficult. That's because the labs are structured so that if they are busted, the people who are arrested know little beyond their own job -- not even the name of the person who hired them. One federal official said intelligence about the methamphetamine trade is woefully lacking. He pointed out that there is no military-style intelligence equivalent in the war on methamphetamine. Such a centralized intelligence operation, where data could be analyzed and shared among all the involved law enforcement agencies, probably would make it easier for the men and women in the trenches. Because many of those involved in the meth trade are Mexican nationals who often use multiple aliases, law enforcement officials say it can be difficult to determine whether they are key players in the operation or just low-level "mopes." It is quite possible, one local law enforcement official said, that major players have been arrested, only to escape with light jail sentences because no one realized who they were or what role they actually played in the operation of the lab.
But identifying and arresting the big players in the meth trade is only one aspect of the problem. It is a war with multiple fronts. Law enforcement officers also want better control and data involving the chemicals -- denatured alcohol, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine -- used in the methamphetamine manufacturing process. Most of the substances are legal and have other uses. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, for example, are found in a multitude of common cold and allergy medicines. The Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency pioneered a program to encourage local merchants to keep closer control of such products and tabs on who is buying them. Many law enforcement officials also want sentencing laws revamped. Penalties for the possession of methamphetamine -- whether for personal use or sale to others -- are not as stiff as possession of rock cocaine or heroin. The key to the meth explosion in California and the rest of the nation ultimately lies with the consumer. Without a horde of willing buyers, there is no meth problem -- at least not on the current scale. National statistics indicate that the demand for meth has skyrocketed since 1990 even as cocaine and marijuana have fallen out of favor. And the meth problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. The Office of National Drug Control Policy believes the proliferation of methamphetamine will be the biggest drug problem the nation faces in the next 10 years. All the more reason to turn the rhetoric into action, one local law enforcement official said, sooner rather than later.

ource: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Pubdate: Thu, 21 May 1998 Contact: Website: Author: ANDY BRUNO AND STEVEN CHAE Mercury News Staff Writers DECONGESTANT LIMITS LEAVE CUSTOMER COLD Q: The Mountain View Costco store has a policy that limits sales of over-the-counter decongestants to two packages per customer. The pharmacist said the policy was in accordance with some Drug Enforcement Administration regulation but he didn't know which one. What is this all about? - -- John Carr, Mountain View A: Costco voluntarily agreed to establish the two-package limit for sales of over-the-counter cold medicines, says a DEA spokeswoman. The pharmacist you spoke with was probably referring to the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996, intended to limit manufacturing and use of the drug methamphetamine, more commonly known as crank or speed. Two substances commonly found in cold remedies, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, are necessary ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine. One of those substances can be found in the popular over-the-counter medications Sudafed, Actifed, Tylenol Cold, Contac, Tavist D and NyQuil, among others. The act limits retail sales to 24 grams of pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine base per transaction. Need help?

Copyright: 1998, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Pubdate: 08 Nov 1998 Author: Jessica McBride of the Journal Sentinel staff CRANK, THE 'RURAL CRACK,' HITS THE HEARTLAND -- HARD Behind the pastoral quiet of Wisconsin farming communities, a monster that's become the drug of choice is swallowing its users New Richmond -- It is a picture of rural Wisconsin innocence: Tanna Lyons, 14, posing in her New Richmond Tigers uniform, a volleyball on her knee. Her smile wholesome, her future seemingly bright, she looks far removed from danger. But within two years, she was a high school dropout and "banger," shooting a wicked form of methamphetamine known as crank into her veins.
Labeled the "rural crack" because of its popularity with small-town, working-class white people, crank is bringing urban drug scenes to postcard farming communities. Wisconsin authorities, alarmed by the jump this year in seven counties, most bordering Minnesota, say crank use is near epidemic in northwest Wisconsin and spreading south and east. Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix and Dane counties are reporting increased problems.

The "poor man's cocaine," controlled by Mexican drug cartels and once confined to California and the Southwest, has marched eastward, decimating people in states such as Montana and Wyoming, and is now considered the "Midwest drug of choice," according to the Wisconsin attorney general's office. It has forged into Wisconsin from border counties of Minnesota, which along with Iowa and Missouri is wrestling with the worst "methidemic" in the heartland. "For these small counties, where there is not a lot of cocaine, it's the most significant problem," Wisconsin Attorney General James Doyle said. "The front line of the battle is in northwest Wisconsin."
Crank, a stimulant affecting the central nervous system, can be almost instantly addictive. Its parent drug, amphetamine, was developed as a nasal decongestant and bronchial inhaler. Methamphetamine is smoked, injected, ingested or inhaled. The drug also is called "chalk" and "crystal." Crank sells for about $15 a hit and can cause anger, panic, paranoia and hallucinations. Users often dig at their skin, trying to get at "crank bugs" -- imaginary insects they think are crawling just under the surface of their gaunt bodies. Jeff Lehto, 31, who lives in a trailer in the St. Croix County countryside, said his girlfriend pulled out all her hair just to get at the "bugs." A crank high lasts about eight to 24 hours or so, compared with about 20 minutes for crack cocaine. And unlike plant-derived cocaine, crank can be made in dangerously explosive homemade labs, with ingredients purchased at local stores. Eight labs were found in Wisconsin in the last six weeks alone. They are relatively unsophisticated, employing fruit jars and cake pans, and cleanup can be dangerous and expensive for law enforcement officials.

"These are Beavis and Butt-head labs, and more often than not, Beavis and Butt-head are in there making it," said Tim Schultz, a state narcotics agent. Several Barron County men were arrested this summer in Rice Lake, burglarizing a business to find farm fertilizer, the only ingredient they were missing for a crank recipe called the Nazi Method, Schultz said. Equipment and ingredients to make crank was found burning in a garbage bin outside a restaurant in Dunn County. And two Madison college students with chemistry degrees were sentenced this summer for making a lab with directions found on the Internet.

To get an idea of crank's typical ingredients, imagine everything you would not want to put in your body. It's a witch's brew that includes cat tranquilizer, car starter fluid, drain cleaner, paint remover and red phosphorus -- commonly found on the strike pads of matchbooks. An investment of a few hundred dollars in over-the-counter medications and chemicals can produce thousands of dollars' worth of methamphetamine. About a year after Tanna's volleyball photo was snapped, she began shooting crank, her family says. Her teeth rotted. Her body was covered with sores from trying to get at the crank bugs. In July, she died in an automobile crash; the Clear Lake teenager behind the wheel of the car she was riding in had alcohol in his system, authorities said. "The younger kids are starting to use it," said Andre Lyons, 18, Tanna's brother, sitting in his family's rural New Richmond home. A gangly teenager with frosted blond hair and green painted toenails, Lyons admits having been a user, too. Tanna, he said, "was using it really bad." "It (crank) is like candy in a candy store around here," said Vickie Lyons, the mother of Tanna and Andre. She tried it herself around a local bonfire.
Bob Weiner, spokesman for national drug czar Barry McCaffrey, said the government has taken many steps to halt an "explosion" of methamphetamine. This year, Congress increased federal penalties for trafficking methamphetamine to equal those for crack. The federal government also provided $24.5 million for more special agents to work on the problem. "It could be the crack cocaine of the next century if we don't take steps now to stop it," Weiner said. Doyle says seizures of clandestine labs in the Midwest rose from 44 in 1995 to more than 500 in 1997. Methamphetamine cases submitted to the State Crime Laboratory are expected to hit 125 this year, up from 77 in 1997. The hot spot for now is St. Croix County, next to Minnesota. Milwaukee and Chicago -- which were some of the last cities in the country to get crack cocaine -- have seen little of the drug so far, partly because established local street gangs that don't deal in crank guard their drug territories. In contrast, places such as St. Croix County - -- part Minnesota bedroom community, part rural farm country -- are wide open. "We have a huge amount of methamphetamine here," said Eric Johnson, St. Croix County district attorney. "I'd say we're one step short of an epidemic."
U.S. Attorney Peggy Lautenschlager said methamphetamine has been in Wisconsin for years, but in the less prevalent and milder version known as speed. That was the domain of motorcycle gangs, and never caught fire outside their circles. Crank -- speed "cranked up" -- is different. "This (crank) is far more broad-based," she said. "It's something everyday members of the community are using." Lautenschlager said authorities are worried about violence associated with the drug, which increases the hormone dopamine, triggering aggression. A form of methamphetamine was used by kamikaze pilots during World War II to increase their sense of invincibility. And prosecutors said Timothy McVeigh used it before the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. Lautenschlager said some Wisconsin counties are seeing increases in reports of domestic violence. Just last month, a Dunn County couple reported that their 14-year-old son had threatened to kill them after using methamphetamine.
"We are very concerned because this is a drug that creates monsters," Dunn County District Attorney Jim Peterson said. In some cases, though, appearances are deceiving. With her long blond hair and freshly scrubbed face, Brandy Schmit, 19, looks as if she should be worrying about class rings or college applications. Instead, she was sobbing in a Hudson courtroom last month as she received seven months in jail for crank delivery. "She looks like the homecoming queen and she could have been the homecoming queen," said Lauri Gaylord, her attorney. Instead, Schmit earned the title "Light Bulb Queen" around her New Richmond circles because she used bulbs to smoke crank. "Crank is everywhere," she said earlier this month in her mother's Hudson home. "It's in Baldwin, it's in Menomonie, it's been in Eau Claire a long time." Crank makes robots. Users don't sleep or eat -- sometimes for days; sometimes for weeks. Schmit's record was 16 days. With no sleep. Schultz said he has heard of one person staying up 52 days. "It's easy to stay awake that long," Schmit said. "You just do it more and more and more and more and do it until you can't do it anymore." Her joints cracked when she walked. She had "crank bugs." "Your body just itches," Schmit said. "The crank comes out of your pores. How would you like Clorox bleach and rat poison coming out of your pores?" Chronic users lose weight, lose their teeth, lose their minds. "I saw dragons, people standing on roofs wearing night-vision goggles," Schmit said. Both Schmit and Tanna were part of a New Richmond circle of users -- generally kids from broken, dysfunctional families -- that revolved around 19-year-old Nick Brabec, one of Wisconsin's most prolific crank dealers. All it takes, authorities said, is a dynamic figure like Brabec for a problem to take off in a town. Brabec now is seen mostly on a videotape. He was sent to federal prison in September and agreed to make an informational tape that is used to educate law enforcement officials about the perils of crank. In the video, his face retains the scarecrow look of a user. His blond hair is shaved into a crew cut, his thin body encased in prison red.

"This (New Richmond) was just a small-town farming community," he says on the tape. "But it (crank) is in the schools; anyone who will get ahold of a needle will bang it. I've seen 12-year-olds use it and I've seen 45- to 50-year-olds use it, and all in between." He tells the law enforcement audience: "It's too late. The truth hurts, but you missed the boat . . . You missed coke in the '70s and you missed meth in the '80s and '90s." Authorities are trying to prove him wrong. Last February, a special joint methamphetamine initiative by local, federal and state law enforcement officials was launched in Wisconsin, Doyle said. Many offenders have been arrested. Doyle also sponsored a first-of-its-kind methamphetamine summit in Menomonie last month to increase public education for law enforcement, educators, paramedics and so forth. "The potential for an epidemic is really there," Doyle said. "But in Wisconsin, we are able to recognize the national trends and are working very hard to stop the drug." Schultz said he believes it's already an epidemic. These are towns, after all, where the only substances previously having significant impact were marijuana and alcohol. Although the number of homemade labs is growing, tracking the crank trail through northwestern Wisconsin still leads back to dealers in Minnesota and, beyond that, deep into Mexico.

Tim McCormick, the resident agent in charge of the Minneapolis-St. Paul office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration -- which includes seven northwestern Wisconsin counties -- has firsthand knowledge of that trail. He said five of the six largest federal crank investigations under his jurisdiction led authorities to criminal organizations outside Mexico City. Twenty Mexican methamphetamine organizations have been identified by the DEA as being involved in the Midwest. Of 205 narcotics cases McCormick's office worked in 1997, 62 involved methamphetamine that originated in Mexico. In 1998, the figure jumped to 106 out of 256 cases. "Methamphetamine this year became the No. 1 drug we're seizing, and violators we're arresting," McCormick said. In all of 1997, agents seized 58.4 pounds of methamphetamine; as of Sept. 1 this year, 89.3 pounds had already been seized -- outpacing cocaine for the first time. McCormick said the Mexican cartels prefer methamphetamine because they have easy access to the necessary ingredients and don't have to deal with South American cartels producing plant-derived drugs such as cocaine. Many high-level Minnesota crank dealers are illegal Mexican immigrants who tend not to be users, he said. "It's just going down the line into northwest Wisconsin, where there is a large user problem," McCormick said. Russ Cragin, a Dunn County sheriff's investigator, spread a diagram on his desk to illustrate the point. Donald V. Cashman and Scott Fedderly - -- both dealers now in federal prison -- were featured in the middle.

The names of two dozen users, mostly rural Dunn County working-class adults, were spread out from their names like a family tree. Cashman was a St. Paul house painter getting the drug from dealers within the Mexican community there, Cragin said. He sold methamphetamine to Fedderly, an unemployed man nicknamed "Gilligan," who lived in a stolen camper in rural Dunn County. Authorities learned the men and others were stealing property -- John Deere tractors and such -- along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border to exchange for crank, Cragin said. Police confiscated a Tupperware bowl full of methamphetamine from Fedderly's camper and a book called "How to Manufacture Methamphetamine" inside his Isuzu Trooper. A sting was conducted on Cashman's St. Paul home, using a Chippewa Falls boy as an informant. Saying that he "would be killed," Cashman refused to name his Mexican suppliers. "People shouldn't panic," Cragin said. "But they should be prepared. It (crank) is coming, and it's here." In one of Wisconsin's most infamous crank cases, Deborah Cochran, a mother of four from River Falls, was sent to federal prison in August for dealing crank. Authorities said she allowed her 16-year-old daughter, a student at the high school, to snort it. Todd Schultz, school psychologist, said about two dozen students ultimately became users. "It was difficult to watch all the kids burning and crashing," Schultz said. "A lot of kids used to go there (Cochran's house) at lunch hour and before and after school. Some students are still trying to recover. There were school dropouts, class failures, some pregnancies." Despite those kinds of horror stories, law enforcement attention seems to be making a difference in some circles. In Tanna's hometown of New Richmond on a recent Friday evening, the souped-up cars packed with teenagers hummed in Big Boy Gyros parking lot. It wasn't hard to find former crank users; it was harder to find someone who admitted still using the drug. An 18-year-old girl who described herself as a "preppy" volunteered that she was in treatment for crank and a follower of Nick Brabec, as Tanna had been. A year before, she said, half the people at any party would have been using crank. But she said things changed in town since Brabec's arrest. The crowd that night was heading off to party in cornfields -- with a keg of beer. - --- Checked-by: Rich O'Grady

Meth lab put on display in Sgt. Bluff by Markes Rodgers Some Siouxlanders got a crash course in "meth education" Monday night. Th e Sergeant Bluff police department put on a demonstration of the dangers of meth. They brought in a former racing trailer that was also a former meth lab. It was seized during a drug raid and now serves as a portable classr= oom where the public can learn more about the dangerous drug. Resident Becky Admire said, "It's very interesting and frightening. Realizing the common household things that are utilized." Those things include starter fluid, table salt and baking soda. These are items easily found in stores.
Another resident said, "I'm very scared about the problem. What the children had to face. If you can cut them of at the path before they get there you're that much farther ahead." Reports on the meth problem in Iowa are staggering. From 1994 to 1998 meth seizures in Iowa grew 20 times. 14 times more labs were uncovered, a= nd there were four times the number of arrests. However, sometimes not even statistics are enough for some people to believe there's a problem in the= ir own backyard. Sgt. Bluff police officer Todd Trobaugh says, "That's the hardest thing, when we find kids under the influence of meth and bring it= to the parents. A lot of times the parents get on the defensive they don't w ant to believe it's happening to their kids in Sgt. Bluff or Sioux City, --

Newshawk: Source: MSNBC Pubdate: 10/24/98 Online: $1.8 million sent to cities to fight drug abuse, violence New Mexico=96 Eight New Mexico cities are going to get more than $1.8 million dollars to fight drug abuse and other crimes in housing projects. The federal government made the award in an effort to thwart the increasing incidence of violence and drug activity in publicly funded housing developments. Albuquerque will receive $600,000 and Santa Fe just over $200,000