Police discuss Meth Awareness

Daily American Staff Writer
Saturday, January 14, 2006 12:42 AM CST

Somerset Police Chief Randy Cox, left, and Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. John P. Rock talk to people attending a presentation on clandestine methamphetamine labs. Robert King, director of behavior health for Somerset Hospital, is on the right. (Staff photo by Vicki Rock)

Illegal methamphetamine production is devastating communities in the southwestern part of the United States, Somerset Borough Police Chief Randy Cox said.

So far, no clandestine meth labs have been found in Somerset County, Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. John P. Rock, Somerset station commander, said. But they have been increasing throughout the state and Rock said it is only a matter of time until one is found here.

The two law enforcement officers presented a program on clandestine meth labs on Friday to employees of Twin Lakes Center, Somerset Hospital and several school districts.

They want people to be aware of the possibility of labs being in the county so they can tell police about suspicious activity. But they cautioned people not to go into a place which may have a meth lab because of the dangers of explosion or chemical injury.

Methamphetamine is known as meth, crank, speed or ice. It produces an euphoric high, followed by a long crash period. It is cheaper than cocaine. Cookers can get information from the Internet and manufacture drugs for $400 from items easily purchased. It takes only 18 hours to make and they could sell those drugs for $2,000 or more, Rock said.

People using methamphetamines develop a tolerance quickly and use more, Cox said. Out of control users, or tweakers, forego food and sleep to take meth every few hours.

“Most production is done in areas similar to Somerset County because they have more anonymity in rural areas,” Cox said. “My wife came up with a good phrase for it - it's the moonshine of the new millennium.”

Ninety to 97 percent of drug abuse in Somerset is with heroin, he said. Heroin dealers are usually people who have moved here from Pittsburgh or Youngstown, Ohio, and may not be users themselves. They see it as a business. Most meth cookers are amateurs and they use the majority of the drugs they make for their own use. They sell the rest to buy ingredients to make the next batch.

(Vicki Rock can be reached at vickir@dailyamerican.com.)

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