Greene County Daily World  [ View Original Article ]

This is the first of two stories talking about the methamphetamine problem in Greene County and the state.

Friday’s story will take a look at a Greene County business that cleans up after a meth lab bust.
This is a glass pipe that was found by technicians from Crisis Cleaning, an Indiana-based company that specializes in methamphetamine lab clean-ups. The company and its services will be featured in a story in Friday’s Greene County Daily World and will be posted on this website.

Methamphetamine continues to have a strong strangle-hold on the state of Indiana with an all-time high of 1,437 lab seizures in 2011, according to a report released this week by the Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Section.

The 2011 number is up from the 1,395 labs found in 2010.

Greene County registered 23 lab busts by the ISP, second in ISP’s District 33 to Monroe County with 54 — sixth highest in the state.

District-wide there were 110 lab busts, according to ISP Public Information Officer Sgt. Curt Durnil, from the Bloomington post.

Other District 33 lab seizures included 22 in Lawrence County, seven in Owen County, three in Brown County, and one in Morgan County.

Vanderburgh County led the state with 116 labs.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that speeds up the nervous system. Addicts make the drug through a chemical process that changes the allergy drug, pseudoephedrine, into a powder or rock form for snorting, smoking or shooting directly into their veins.

State-wide the “one pot method” has become the most popular method of manufacturing with 74 percent (1,014) of the busts using this cooking method. The Birch Reduction (Nazi) method followed with 23 percent and 310 labs. Red Phosphorus tallied 3 percent of 39 of the seized labs.

The “one pot cook” process is a short cut to the manufacture of meth by combining all necessary ingredients in one reaction vessel, typically a 20-ounce drinking bottle, 2 liter bottle or a glass bottle/jar. The cook process combines incompatible chemicals that easily cause flash fires or explosions. It also produces a smaller yet just as potent amount of methamphetamine, which means more meth labs and more trips to stores to buy or steal the products used in the manufacture of meth, according to a State Police news release.

“I will tell you the majority of District 33 labs are one pots. There are three troopers assigned to do meth investigations (in the district), which is up two from this time last year,” Durnil commented.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell agrees the one-pot method is the manufacturing method of choice in the Greene County area these days.

The police chief credits the Greene County Drug Task Force, organized by county prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw when he took office in 2007, with having a major impact on the methamphetamine problem locally.

The task force is made up of Linton, Worthington, Jasonville, Bloomfield and county sheriff’s department police officers, who network, share information about suspected criminal activity and participate in actual coordinated drug busts. The prosecutor’s office provides buy money in some cases and helps with the purchase of necessary equipment from forfeited money that comes from drug arrests, according to Jerrell.

The chief recalled that meth labs really started popping up in the county about 2000.

“They started slowly down some and what we were seeing was more pre-manufactured meth coming in to the county. Not the kind that was manufactured here, actual meth that was shipped into the United States. The labs kind of died down because people were seeing they were hard to hide and people were getting caught with them left and right,” Jerrell said. “But here in the last year or so they’ve started popping up again and it’s because of the one-pot method. They can do it (the cooking) a lot quicker and they take less of a chance of getting caught as far as someone smelling chemicals in a process that took hours.”

“What we (the task force and LPD) have been focusing on is the dealers more so than the people who are just in possession of it. We have, of course, charged them, but our main function is to nail the ones who are shipping it in or manufacturing it or selling it.”

Meth labs are dangerous and the consequences can be drastic, ISP officials point out.

Since 2000, there have been 20 adult and two children deaths attributed to meth labs in the state. In addition, there have been 173 adult injuries, nine child injuries, and 66 injuries to law enforcement officers.

The ISP Meth Suppression Unit started in January 2006.

That year there were 803 meth labs dismantled around the state.

ISP began tracking lab busts since 1995 when there were just six reported state-wide.

This year along with a higher number of labs found is also a higher number of people arrested — 1,420, up from 1,252 in 2010.

FYI:

Signs to look for meth manufacturing are a strong ammonia smell, or solvent smell like an auto body shop. Look for airline type rubber tubing, ether or camp fuel cans, plastic bottles, pseudoephedrine packages, lithium battery casings, and propane tanks with a blue or green discoloration around the valve. The chemicals are highly explosive and fumes are toxic to breath and will damage internal organs.

Often times meth labs are found as a result of an anonymous tip from a neighbor or friend. Anyone with information about illegal drug use may call the Indiana State Police Drug Tip Line at 1-(800) 453-4756.

Tips are kept anonymous.