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More ‘meth’ found in the county
In Jan. 28 Issue

There were more arrests over the last week on drug charges in the county, following two "busts" the preceding week.

January 24th, Trooper Martin Wesley responded to 157 J.S. Wilson Road in Russell Springs, to assist the Russell County Sheriff's Department with a domestic complaint.

According to a report from the Kentucky State Police, Trooper Wesley obtained information that led to the execution of a search warrant. The trooper and the KSP drug detection dog Klaus recovered what the agency is calling large amounts of marijuana and suspected cocaine.

Hunter Tarter, 20, who lives at the residence was arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana over 8 ounces/less than 5 lbs and drug paraphernalia/use/possession.

Russell County Sheriff's Deputies Tim Pierce and Jeremy England assisted the trooper in the case.

Wesley reported that additional charges are likely when the case is presented to the Russell County Grand Jury.

In another case, being investigated by the Russell County Sheriff's Department.

Three persons were arrested Thursday night outside of Russell Springs on charges of making and selling methamphetamine.

Russell County Sheriff Larry Bennett said the three were taken into custody on Edmonds Lane off of Ky. 1545 around 8 p.m.

Three Russell Springs residents were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and trafficking in a controlled substance. They are Isaac Edmonds, 27, Heather Edmonds, 21, and Johnny David Weiand, 36.

Bennett said a quantity of suspected methamphetamine was seized during a search of the residence along with precursors chemicals and items used in the manufacturing process.

All three were lodged in the Russell County Jail. Additional charges are likely according to the Sheriff when evidence in the case is presented to a Russell County Grand Jury.

These are two of the four recent cases in what many in the law enforcement community are reporting as an increase in drug manufacture and trafficking Kentucky.

Justin Story reported in the Bowling Green Daily News that record numbers of meth labs in the state have led local law enforcement officials to advocate for legislation to make a key ingredient of methamphetamine available by prescription only.

The Kentucky State Police headquarters in Frankfort released statistics indicating that 716 meth labs were discovered in the state last year, an all-time record and a 60 percent increase over 2008 totals.

Only two states, Missouri and Indiana, had a higher number of meth labs in 2009, according to the state police.

The large increase in meth labs in Kentucky represents a reversal of fortune for law enforcement officers who had made inroads into curbing the number of meth labs with the help of legislation passed in 2005 that required the purchase of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in meth, to be made at pharmacy counters.

The number of meth labs had decreased gradually each year from 600 in 2004 to 302 in 2007.

The Kentucky Narcotics Officers Association, comprising more than 300 narcotics officers throughout the state, responded by voting to support the designation of pseudoephedrine as a prescription drug.

"If you walk in any pharmacy, there is a cold aisle that you don't have to go to a pharmacist for with lots of medicines for allergies and cold remedies that basically do the same thing as pseudoephedrine," said Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force and KNOA's executive director.

Loving said Oregon enacted a law in 2006 making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug and saw its meth labs plummet from nearly 500 a year prior to the law to about 20 a year since then.

Opponents of the measure supported by the KNOA have expressed concerns about the possibility of rising medical costs.

Loving said Medicaid costs for Oregon increased by about $7,000 in the first year pseudoephedrine was made a prescription drug, but law enforcement in Kentucky is spending much more to clean meth labs.

"We've had duplexes and storage buildings burned by fires started by meth labs," Loving said. "We're lucky we haven't had fires and explosions in hotels from meth labs and we're even luckier we haven't had police officers injured in fires and explosions to this point, so we think it's a pretty decent trade off."

In 2008, a computerized system called Meth Check was introduced in pharmacies that logged the purchases of pseudoephedrine and placed an upper limit for purchases in a month by an individual.

Law enforcement have argued that meth manufacturers and traffickers have begun to work around the system, engaging in a tactic known as "smurfing," in which groups of people paid by an individual manufacturer purchase the maximum amount of pseudoephedrine tablets at pharmacies in a month.

"We've had instances where there'd be five people in one vehicle who would go into a drug store one at a time, buy it and more than likely take it to the same source," said Jeff Scruggs, director of the Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force.

The KNOA cites the instances of smurfing as a reason to make pseudoephedrine, which was available only through prescription as recently as 1976, a prescription-only drug once again.

"Our opponents say smurfing will continue through physician visits - we contend that it will be much more effective to police a few unscrupulous physicians than thousands and thousands of smurfing individuals," said the position statement released earlier this month by the KNOA.

Also, police have grown concerned about the number of meth cooks who have recently begun using the "shake and bake" method of making the drug.

In the shake and bake, ingredients are combined in a small container, often a two-liter plastic soda bottle, and the chemical reactions resulting from the mixture produce the drug.

This method is quicker, but is also quite dangerous - the shake and bake method places a large amount of pressure on the contents in the container and can lead to an explosion.

The KSP says that the cost to clean up all the meth labs discovered last year totaled $1,373,825.

Additionally, area drug task force directors have said that children have more frequently been found in meth labs.

"Like every other agency, we're strapped for cash ... and if meth wasn't such a problem, the money we spend to clean could go toward equipment, personnel or addressing other substance abuse issues," said Lt. David Jude, spokesman for the KSP in Frankfort.

Scruggs said his agency cleaned up 50 meth labs in 2009.

"The tendency is they're going to be up this year for us, too," Scruggs said.

Jerry Smith, director of the South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force, which covers Logan and Simpson counties, said that his agency cleaned 32 meth labs in 2009 and worked 120 meth-related cases.

A significant number of charges involved thefts of anhydrous ammonia, another ingredient used to manufacture the drug, Smith said.

KSP advises that if you suspect someone is making meth or you encounter a meth lab, call 1-800 DOPETIP (1-800-367-3847). Callers can remain anonymous.

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