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DRUG AWARENESS Concerns voiced on growth of meth labs


Published: Sat, March 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


A federal agent said making meth is as easy as making chocolate-chip cookies.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Concerns about methamphetamine use prompted United Methodist Community Center and Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth to hold an awareness program.
"We know that meth is not a big problem in the inner city at this point," Lenore Moore, outreach supervisor for the center on North Pearl Street, said Friday. "This is a preventative measure."
Juanita Pasley, assistant director of the community center, said she has a friend who lives on West Delason Avenue, near a house where a meth lab was found last month. "We want to make the community aware -- [meth] is coming this way," she said.
The West Delason house on the densely populated South Side was the first meth lab found in the city, according to Youngstown Lt. Robin Lees, Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force commander. Because of telltale fumes, most clandestine labs are set up in rural areas, he said.
What agent said
Speaking at Friday's awareness program was Steve, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who asked that his identity not be used, and Amy Klumpp, a social worker with the Mahoning County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board. The audience of roughly 40 men and women included parents and social workers, among others.
"Other states are overrun by meth labs, and it's fast becoming a problem in this state," Klumpp said. Education about the highly addictive stimulant is the best prevention, she said.
The DEA agent said the violence associated with meth -- called "speed," "crank," "ice," "crystal" and "Tina" -- puts powdered and crack cocaine "to shame." He said the drug, made predominately by whites in "mom and pop labs" in suburban areas, is used mostly by whites. One dose of the addictive drug can sell for about $100, the federal agent said.
Klumpp said studies have shown that 91 percent of meth users are white and 76 percent are age 21 to 40. She said 12.4 million Americans have tried meth at least once.
Impact on children
She said the impact on kids who live in a place where meth is manufactured is enormous. Because adults users are up for three to five days and then down for three to five days, their children are neglected and exposed to dangerous chemicals, she said.
Klumpp said those who cook the meth ingredients are essentially making hazardous waste. The cooks then dispose of the waste -- five to six pounds for every one pound of meth produced -- down toilets, into sewers and back yards, she said.
The ingredients include ephedrine, found in over-the-counter decongestants such as Sudafed, sales of which are now limited by state law, the DEA agent said. Other ingredients include drain cleaner, battery acid, freon, iodine and more, he said.
The agent said: "If you can make chocolate-chip cookies, you can make meth. It's almost as easy."
Meth-makers, he said, are motivated by money. The profit on $600 worth of products is $2,000, he said.
The DEA agent said the short-term effects of meth include decreased appetite, fatigue, paranoia and aggressive behavior. Long-term effects from the toxins inherent in meth include tooth decay ("meth mouth"), memory problems, addiction, insomnia and reduced levels of dopamine, which regulates emotions and motivation.
He warned the audience members "don't touch," but call local police or the DEA if they suspect a meth lab exists in their neighborhood.
meade@vindy.com


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