Meth labs pose problems

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

JACKSON – Children are in danger because of the latest drug to sweep across North Carolina.

More then 25 people from agencies all around Northampton County gathered Tuesday morning to discuss the problems presented by clandestine drug labs throughout the state and to make plans for a course of action if one is located in the county.

Special Agent Kelly Page of the State Bureau of Investigation presented a detailed account of what drug labs that produce methamphetamines look like and smell like as well as giving descriptions of those who are on the drugs.

The drug labs in North Carolina started in the western part of the state and most of the problems remain on that side of North Carolina. However, more and more Meth labs are being located in the central and eastern part of the state.

Page spent much of the morning helping folks from Northampton County learn what to look for when making home visits. She did the training for Department of Social Services personnel, health department personnel, police officers and others who have opportunities to visit in homes.

“The difference in the western part of the state, they know about Meth,” she said. “That’s how big a problem it is there.”

Methamphetamines, commonly known as crystal, crank, gas or ice among other names, was first invented in 1919 in Japan.

World War II soldiers used the drug to stay alert because it allowed them to stay awake for 10 to 12 days at a time.

Page also talked about the North Carolina law that allows only two boxes of Sudafed and like products containing sudaphedrine to be sold to each customer. That law came into effect because of the need for sudaphedrine in making Meth.

According to Page, one box of Sudafed can produce one gram of Meth.

While Meth is being made in North Carolina, only about 20 percent of what is on the streets in the state is made here.

Page said Meth was so popular because it was easy to make, recipes were readily available, there were huge profit margins and the ingredients were easy to get.

She said the $150 for supplies could easily make $2,000 worth of Meth, but added that most Meth cooks do not make a profit because they are hooked on the drug.

“This is the most addictive drug there is,” she said.

Page said the beginning user of Meth experienced it as a stimulant that increased sex drive and helped people lose weight. After about six months, it makes those who use it irritable, aggressive, fills them with anxiety, causes auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions.

Physical effects from long-term use of Meth include weight loss, body odor, tremors, sweating, bad teeth and open sores.

Page said that over the past two years, 224 children have been found in homes with drug labs in North Carolina. There were 124 in 2004 and 100 in 2005.

Those children almost always suffer from neglect and abuse and 30 percent of them test positive for Meth because of inhalation. They also often have chemical burns on their knees and faces.

Groups commonly coming into contact with labs include DSS, law enforcement, mental health, the district attorney’s office, the school system, health department, hospitals, environmental management and emergency management.

Page advised all of those in attendance that if they suspected a home contained a drug lab, they should contact law enforcement and not enter without the law enforcement. She said if they were already in a home, they should exit and then call law enforcement.

After the discussion about clandestine drug labs, the group adopted a Northampton County Response Protocol. Details of that protocol will appear in Tuesday’s edition of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.