Pubdate: Tue, 05 Aug 2003
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Ben Fields, The Independent


ASHLAND An area drug task force will be training more officers to deal
with the growing problem of methamphetamine labs.

The FIVCO Area Drug Enforcement (FADE) task force has received a "soft
earmark" from the federal Community Oriented Policing Services
Methamphetamine/Drug "Hot Spots" program, allowing the group more
training and equipment, according to U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Ky.

A soft earmark, according to Lucas' office, does not appropriate a
dollar amount to an agency, but gives it priority consideration when
that agency applies for federal funds.

Already this year FADE has shut down or found the remnants of four
meth labs in the FIVCO region: Three in Elliott County and one in an
apartment complex in Flatwoods, Greenup County's largest city.

Last year, the agency dealt with two labs.

"We're getting our fair share of them," said FADE Detective Dave

Law enforcement personnel have to be trained and certified to shut
down meth labs, mainly because they have to handle hazardous chemicals
used in a reaction process to create the drug, Smith said.

One of those substances, a pure form of ammonia, can cause chemical
pneumonia or even death if its fumes are inhaled.

"You have to know how to safely deal with that stuff," Smith

Currently, Smith and another officer are the only FADE employees
certified to tackle meth labs.

FADE is a multi-jurisdictional task force whose member agencies
include: the Flatwoods, Grayson, Raceland, Russell and West Liberty
police departments; the Carter County and Elliott County sheriff's
departments; and the commonwealth's attorney's office for the 37th
judicial district counties of Carter, Elliott and Morgan.

Don Fraley, mayor of Russell, a retired Kentucky State Police trooper
and chairman of FADE's board of directors, said the task force has
devoted a portion of its budget this year to dealing with these labs.

"That's the first time we've done that," Fraley said. "Meth is an

Fraley said FADE has budgeted funds for a mobile "takedown" unit, that
is always ready with the supplies and equipment officers need to
disassemble a lab.

"They can easily go from site to site and take those things down," he
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