Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold Medicine Group, Law Enforcement Differ Over Meth War


Manufacturers of pseudoephedrine, a popular decongestant that is also a key ingredient for making methamphetamine, are offering to pay for real-time electronic tracking of purchases so Tennessee won't start requiring prescriptions.Dueling bills are likely in the General Assembly as law enforcement officers push for a prescription requirement while the Consumer Healthcare Products Association pitches its tracking system.
"What we are asking legislators to do is just consider a balance because there's really an appropriate point for allowing legitimate access for consumers," said Mandy N. Hagan, director of state government relations for the association. "The vast majority of these sales are clearly not being used to make meth."
But state law officials say the association's plan won't work because meth makers have devised a method for getting around tracking systems, including one the state already has.
Tennessee last year surpassed its previous record for meth lab seizures, set in 2004. Seizures totaled 2,082 — a 45 percent rise from 2009 and 33.5 percent higher than the old record.
Although the southeast corner of the state is the hot spot for meth labs, there has been an uptick in Middle Tennessee. The most dramatic increase was in Sumner County, which had 13 seizures compared with one in 2009. Seizures were also up in Davidson, Wilson and Robertson counties.
The prior record for seizures was set before Tennessee enacted a 2005 law that required purchasers to present identification and mandated pharmacies to keep logs for an electronic reporting system. Lab incidents plunged after its enactment.
But meth makers began "smurfing" around the law by recruiting people to buy pseudoephedrine at multiple locations, including neighboring states. This backdoor supply system and an easier method for making meth have caused the number of labs to surge. Meth can now be made in 2-liter soda bottles with the "shake-and-bake" system.

Officer supports law

Last year, Mississippi started requiring prescriptions. (Oregon is the only other state to do so.) Tommy Farmer, director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, thinks it's a good idea. In the six months after the Mississippi law took effect July 1, lab seizures fell 76 percent.
“On top of that, we border Mississippi,” Farmer said. “I’ve got other ways of looking at and verifying their data. I’m seeing a significant increase in Tennessee of suspicious pseudoephedrine sales by citizens from Mississippi. It’s an over 200 percent increase in the last six months.”
Tennessee law now requires people to present identification to buy pseudoephedrine and sets a limit on how much they can buy within a 30-day window. The drug can be purchased only at pharmacies, which must keep it behind the counter or under lock and key. Pharmacies must keep logs of all sales to customers, which are entered into an integrated network. Some provide the data on a real-time basis, but not all.
Twelve states participate in the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), the tracking system sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Product Association. They include border states Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Kentucky blocks about 10,000 grams (22 pounds) of pseudoephedrine sales a month using NPLEx. Federal law forbids anyone from buying more than 9 grams a month.
NPLEx allows pharmacies to immediately recognize suspicious buyers and report them to authorities, the association's Hagan said. It is also an integrated system across state lines.
“The current system doesn’t do that,” Hagan said.
A prescription requirement would cause hardships for cold and allergy sufferers and result in about $1 million in lost sales tax revenue, Hagan said. Prescription drugs aren't subject to a sales tax.
Is it really any wonder that pharmaceutical companies do not want this medication made into a prescription?  Why would they want this being made into prescription only when 77%-94% of their sales are coming from meth cooks?  No business wants to lose that much revenue.  There should be an exception when it comes to saving lives though.

The vast majority of PSE sales are not legitimate as stated in this story. In Indiana, they have estimated only 6% are legit. In KY they have estimated that only 23% of purchases are legitimate. The cold medicine group can say that most sales are legit all they want, but anyone that goes into a store and tries to buy a product containing PSE can see different. The shelves are usually sold out of the PSE products, yet NyQuil and other products are always stocked. Why would that be if the "vast majority" was being bought be cold sufferers? Wouldn't both medications be sold out? Way before they started putting PSE behind the counter stores had started having the isles watched by security cameras or the medication moved to within site of the cash register because so many people were stealing it.  Why would they want this being made into prescription only when 77%-94% of their sales are coming from meth cooks?  No business wants to lose that much revenue.

Also, tracking systems do not work. KY has the tracking system and they had a record number of busts last year. Mandatory long term sentences for meth manufactures should be implemented, but that doesn't work either. Every meth cook teaches 10 more people how to cook every year. It's just a cycle. The goal should not be to track and watch to make arrests to lock up as many people as possible for as long as possible using the most manpower possible. The goal should be to eliminate labs period. PSE is the one and only ingredient meth can not be made without.

Finally, and most importantly, there are children burning to death or being severely poisoned by the toxic fumes. One girl, here in TN, had to have plastic chiseled off of her before they could even start treating after her parents lab caught on fire. Other children have died by drinking drain cleaner and other chemicals their druggie parents have left out. I can't believe some people are so selfish that they would rather things like this continue to happen so they don't have to be "inconvenienced".

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mother Admits Guilt for Daughter's Meth Mouth in exchange for Plea Deal


LA PORTE — A woman admitted Friday to her role in a La Porte meth lab whose toxic vapors caused her 6-year-old daughter’s teeth to rot.

Under a guilty plea, Debra Benedict would receive a six-year prison sentence followed by five years on work release and four years on probation for Class B felony dealing methamphetamine and Class D felony neglect of a dependent.

La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos took the plea under advisement. If he accepts it, Benedict’s sentencing is scheduled for April 15.

The girl’s father, Phillip Dalton, 46, on Jan. 7 received the same sentence.

Alevizos nearly rejected Benedict’s plea when she denied blame for her daughter’s teeth rotting due to the toxic chemicals used in the production of meth at the home.

“I kept my children away from that as much as possible,” Benedict said.

Alevizos angrily responded, “So, you have no idea how the girl was exposed to this? How did your daughter have all of her teeth out?”

After being questioned further by the judge and counseled by her attorney, Barbara Transki, the woman accepted blame.

“I know what I did was wrong. I did wrong by my children. Yes, I did,” Benedict said.

In November 2009, police responded to a domestic violence call at 504 Brighton St. and uncovered a meth lab.

The girl’s three teenage siblings also lived there, but the effects of meth exposure were more extreme in the girl, who during an examination at La Porte Hospital was diagnosed with “meth mouth,” a condition marked by sores and rotting teeth, according to court documents.

Officers shining flashlights into the home reported seeing a haze and felt the effects of the toxic fog. According to investigators, several batches of meth were cooked daily.

The children were placed with relatives in Knox, authorities said.


I believe the only reason this woman accepted the blame is because the judge was about to throw out her plea deal.  Only after the judge becoming angry and her lawyer speaking to her did she admit blame.  I hope they still throw it out.

New Child Advocacy Center To Help Montague County Kids - KAUZ-TV: NewsChannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

New Child Advocacy Center To Help Montague County Kids - KAUZ-TV: NewsChannel 6 Now Wichita Falls, TX

Montague County has been plagued with a meth problem and it's forcing hundreds of children into state custody.
In fact, the number of children the Montague County Child Welfare Board serves has more than doubled the past few years. Just last month they were working with 130 children who were in CPS custody.
Clint Brown is on the Child Welfare Board and said the reason more kids are in the system is because the sheriff's department is cracking down on meth.  That means more parents are being aggressively investigated and prosecuted.
To help these children feel more comfortable when being questioned by authorities, meeting foster parents or attending counseling sessions, the Child Welfare Board and Patsy's House have created a Child Advocacy Center.
"The place is just a key role in that because within moments of coming to patsy's house children have to tell the most horrible degrading things that have ever happened to them in their lives to a complete stranger and place is just key to that kid feeling comfortable and safe," executive director of Patsy's House Keri Goins said.
Patsy's House has a forensic interviewer on staff at the advocacy center who is trained in child development and interviewing skills.
"We're not only meeting their physical needs, health , education, social but, we're also meeting psychological needs to lead a productive life as adults," Clint Brown said.
There are some exterior improvements that need to be made but, the fact that it is up and running will make a huge difference to all the families who cannot afford to travel to Wichita Falls for services.
"we can't change what's happened to children, we can change what happens next. So, I think they feel when they come here what happens next is going to be better," Goins said.
The home is being leased for one year with an option to buy and is being paid for completely with donations.
If you would like to contribute to the Montague County Child Advocacy Center call Patsy's House at (940) 322-8890.
Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6

Saturday, January 22, 2011

81-yr-old Woman Suffers Acid Burns from Grandson's Meth Making Materials

An 81-year-old Bethel Springs woman is recovering after spilling acid used to make meth on her legs.
Mary Tate was reaching for the phone in her home Tuesday afternoon when she tipped a plastic bottle onto the floor. Inside was a sulfuric acid.
 "I spilled it and saw it turn the carpet black," said Tate. "I knew there was something wrong."
Police say the acid was put in Tate's house by her 20 year old great grandson, Darren Talley. He, and a friend, Victoria Jones, have been charged with promotion of meth and reckless endangerment, because of the burns to Tate.
"When it spilled, it started eating through her nightgown," said McNairy County Sheriff Guy Buck.
This isn't Talley's first time dealing with meth charges. In fact, McNairy County deputies arrested Talley in a Hardin County courthouse where he was appearing for another unrelated meth charge.
Talley remains in custody.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pseudoephedrine Restriction and Drug Endangered Children

The following is an excellent post from Holly Hopper, Director, National Drug Endangered Children Training & Advocacy Center.

One of the hot legislative topics at the state level involves scheduling of pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in Sudafed (R) and other forms of cold medicine. Our memories may easily fail to remember that this medication was available by prescription prior to making it an over-the-counter medication. As it turns out, this decision has cost the public--tax payers--millions upon millions of dollars as members of biker gangs and street chemists began to manufacture methamphetamine.

For the benefit of public convenience, children were forced to breathe dangerous chemicals and suffered the medical effects of this long-term exposure. Law enforcement officers were exposed to chemicals and dangerous environments without realizing the gravity of these harms. The response has evolved to include intensive Haz-Mat responder training for officers and hazardous waste disposal programs initiated by Regional Drug Task Forces to save money. There are a number of law enforcement officers who suffer the health consequences of these exposures that are evidenced by liver damage or lingering respiratory problems.

The children suffer greatly at the hands of a society of untrained responders who fail to see what is right before their eyes. Knowledge is required before an individual is able to interpret that which is before his eyes. With drug busts, dangers must be seen and understood before evidence can be collected, presented, and prosecuted. If children appear to be "okay", professionals respond to what they interpret in an instant to be well-enough to leave alone. What we know is that upon investigation it is common to discover children who test positive for the drugs abused by mom, dad, and caregivers. These children are frequently dehydrated, nutrient deficient, filled with fear, suffering the consequences of trauma, and perhaps even the victim of sexual abuse because they are the currency of convenience. They are the money used to purchase their parent's drug.

What does all this have to do with pseudoephedrine restriction? Drug users with use the upper or downer that is available and provides the least risk of arrest and prosecution. Parents of these children can make large amounts of money working as a "smurfer", a person who spends the days driving from pharmacy to pharmacy to purchase pseudoephedrine and resell it or provide it to the meth manufacturer. These individuals use fake ID's to overcome tracking measures that were intended to prevent illicit use of pseudoephedrine (just as some systems such as KASPER track narcotic prescriptions).

The DEC response targets all child victims of drug related crime. There are far too many of these children out there--over 90% of all substantiated child abuse cases are in this category. However, if I can be inconvenienced just a little, it is worth it to end abuse in this segment of the drug endangered child population.

Meth cannot be manufactured without pseudoephedrine and we have the power to end meth.

What can you do to save a child today?


*KY will be voting on a measure to make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.  If you live in KY please contact your legislator and urge them to vote "YES" on Senate Bill 45.*

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When Your Addicted Loved One Asks for Help with Recovery

Occassionally we have people contact us asking how they can help their addicted loved one who is ready to quit using.  While we are not counselors or affiliated with any program we are happy to share what we have learned through personal experience and listening to others. 

First, family members and loved ones should learn all they can about the addiction.  It really helps to know what you and your addict are up against.  Mothers Against MethAmphetamine has litterature for families and addicts.  They have pamphlets, workbooks, and one highly recommended book "Crystal Meth - They Call it Ice".

Next, if they are want to go to rehab, help them find it.  They will probably need help searching for centers, filling out applications, and getting paperwork ready.  It can be a daunting job, especially for someone who is doing good just to function through daily tasks.

Below are a couple of options when you're looking for rehab.  There are many more that can be "googled" on the internet or by asking a local counseling center.

Teen Challenge is a nationwide substance abuse rehab program.  There are many different centers for dedicated to certain groups - men, women, teens.  David has visited several Teen Challenge centers.  He has met people who were clients and speak highly of the program.  When people call us asking about rehab, it is the one that we first recommend they check out.  Here is the Teen Challenge facility locator.

Also, here is a link to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator.  From this locator you can search to find substance abuse treatment based on type of drug abused, type of facility, length of stay, and payment options.

If rehab isn't an option you may want to help them find meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery if they want to go.  Not everyone who recovers goes to rehab or meetings, but they are beneficial for many.

If your loved one is in jail, you may want to provide them with recovery related reading materials or encourage them to take part in any treatment programs or ministries that are offered.  It really, really helps for the addicted person to understand what has been happening to their brains and bodies and what to expect during recovery.

Most importantly, let them know you love them and you are there to help.  A good support system, even if it consists of just one person, means more than most people realize.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Numer of Methamphetamine Users Rises

I am not sure it ever declined.  You can't base the number of users on the amount of labs, IMO.  Cutting back on the numbers of labs is great.  That would greatly decrease a whole set of risks.  However, as long as there is demand there will be a supply.  We have to tackle this issue from the prevention angle also.

QUINCY, ILL. -- It seems like every week there's a new arrest for methamphetamine use.
This week, a federal grand jury returned indictments charging two Quincy brothers with meth distribution.
People are finding new ways to purchase materials to make meth even with laws in place.
Methamphetamine use started in the midwest because the ingredients are easily available.
"For a significant period of time, these were larger meth labs: garage size operations or basement size operations, sometimes individual buildings doing fairly large quantities of meth," said Ron Howell of Recovery Resources.
But when the law restricting pseudoephedrine purchases passed a few years ago, the number of meth users dropped. Then, a new way of making meth was introduced. The shake and bake method lets users make meth in a two liter soda bottle. It makes a smaller amount for individual use, or for small groups of people.
"When the meth cooks discovered the shake and bake method, those numbers started to come back up again. So, now we're seeing an up-swing," said State's Attorney Jon Barnard.
State's Attorney Jon Barnard says in the entire state of Illinois, the convenience store with the highest number of psuedoephedrine sales isn't in Chicago or any other large city. It's right here in Quincy.
"What does that tell you? And it's not that the retail outlets are letting this stuff happen. They strictly comply with the law and they keep very close track, but it just tells you how relentless these people are," said Barnard.
Now, they're finding ways to get around the law. Smurfs, as they're called, buy psuedoephedrine for users, making it almost impossible to track who the drug is really for.
"Five to eight years ago it was kind of considered an extreme drug, unusual in terms of general addictive behavior. That's not the case anymore. It's become mainstream," said Ron Howell of Recovery Resources.
In 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study, which ranked Illinois 4th in the country for meth arrests and meth lab seizures.
Methamphetamine users cost the state $2 billion dollars annually.

Woman Charged With Child Abuse for Dirty House

I was told by a law enforcement officer that in TN children could be left in the conditions described in this story as long as they were old enough to walk upright and not crawling through it.  I hope that is not still true and am very glad it's not true in North Dakota.  As usual, drugs were involved.

A Bismarck woman is accused of child abuse after police and social workers found her home in disarray.

Sarah Crabtree, 29, was charged Wednesday with Class C felony abuse or neglect of a child.

According to court documents, Crabtree also is known by the last names Pittman and Lupkiewich. She also appeared in court on Wednesday on unrelated Class C felony charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine.

South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell set bond for her at $3,000 cash or surety and prohibited her from having contact with three children without the permission of Burleigh County Social Services.
Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena said a social worker with Burleigh County Social Services asked for police assistance at 4:33 p.m. Tuesday in investigating the state of a home where three children lived. Responding officers found the home in “complete disarray” and reported it was difficult to walk through due to clothing, garbage, a broken mirror, broken glass, open scissors, knives and old food on the floor.

Three children, a 6-year-old boy and 4- and 3-year-old girls, lived at the home and had made a “fort” out of dirty clothes and a television in a closet. The children were walking barefoot through the home and one child injured a foot walking through the garbage.

Buschena said a police report said social services had been investigating the living conditions at the home for some time.

In court, Crabtree said she plans to enter drug treatment when released from jail so she can be reunited with her children.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Missouri leads nation for meth labs for 9th year in a row

Missouri again leads nation in meth labs seized

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Even as communities and states keep coming up with ways to make it harder to manufacture methamphetamine, makers of the dangerous and addictive drug keep finding ways around them. Meth lab incidents around the nation rose 27 percent in 2009 to 8,611 from 6,757 in 2008, according to statistics from the El Paso Intelligence Center, a collaboration of government agencies that tracks drug movement.
And for the ninth straight year, Missouri had the most, with 1,774 incidents, up 19 percent from 1,487 the previous year. An "incident" includes meth lab busts but also any documented evidence of meth-making, authorities said Wednesday.
Indiana had the second-most meth lab incidents with 1,096, followed by Kentucky with 583, Mississippi with 577 and Michigan with 511.
The number of meth lab incidents peaked in 2003 and 2004 -- more than 17,000 cases were reported both years. Incidents started to decline in the middle of the decade as some states, including Missouri, passed laws making it more difficult to buy large quantities of products containing pseudoephedrine -- a key ingredient needed to make meth.
By 2007, the number of meth lab incidents nationally had dropped to 5,512. Since then, though, there has been a steady rise in Missouri and around the nation.
"Our meth problem hasn't gone away," said Sgt. Jason Clark, who heads the division of drug and crime control for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "Those folks manufacturing meth are resourceful in finding precursors."
Police on the front lines in Missouri are sensitive to claims that the state is the "meth capital." They say the Highway Patrol and many communities are simply proactive in addressing what is considered the region's most serious drug problem.
"Our numbers lead the nation and that's attributed to our aggressive stance," said Lt. Dave Marshak of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department near St. Louis. Jefferson County is annually among the nation's leading counties in meth lab incidents and had 227 last year, the most in Missouri and more than all but 10 states. "We train schools and educators, we even train trash haulers to keep an eye out for what they pick up, and to alert us if they see anything."
Missouri passed a law in 2005 requiring cold and allergy medications like Sudafed, Claritin D and Aleve Cold & Sinus that contain pseudoephedrine to be placed behind pharmacy counters. That law also limited the amount that could be purchased and required buyers to show a photo ID.
In August, another new Missouri law further restricted availability of pseudoephedrine by allowing it to be sold only in pharmacies. Since then, a handful of Missouri communities have passed laws requiring a prescription for the medications.
Meth makers have found ways around the measures. They avoid shopping in the restricted communities. With limits on the amount they can purchase, they send out teams of friends and fellow users to buy pseudoephedrine-containing medicines for them. They even travel outside of Missouri to make purchases in states with less-restrictive laws.
"We're surrounded by eight states," Clark said. "I'm not saying the meth makers get all of their chemicals from out of state, but the nature of the drug makes people do anything to get it."
Police say they're also seeing an increase in meth users making smaller batches through either the "one-pot" or "shake-and-bake" method. In the one-pot method, ingredients are mixed in a gallon-sized container such as a plastic pitcher. Shake-and-bake involves mixing the toxic ingredients in a 64-ounce soda bottle and shaking it up.
But both methods are highly dangerous and produce a less potent drug, Clark said. Meth makers still prefer to cook the drug the old-fashioned way.
"People need to realize the dope is more important to them than anything and they'll do whatever they have to do to get it," Clark said.
On the Net:
Missouri State Highway Patrol meth lab incident maps: