Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jun 2003
Source: Herald Chronicle, The (TN)
Copyright: The Herald Chronicle 2003
Contact: 906 Dinah Shore Blvd Winchester, TN 37398
Author: Wayne Thomas


A new law increasing penalties for methamphetamine manufacturers caught 
making the illegal drug on public lands has been signed.

The bill, which was sponsored by Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, covers parks, 
wilderness areas, public housing developments and apartments.

According to a spokesperson for Governor Phil Bredesen, convicted 
manufacturers will spend more time in jail and must pay to clean up 
hazardous components of clandestine labs under the measure. Matheny 
explained that methamphetamines are "sucking us dry and killing local law 
enforcement budgets."

Since the creation of Southeast Tennessee Methamphetamines Task Force in 
2000, authorities have seized 974 labs and spent about $2.4 million to 
dismantle them. The average cost of disposing of harmful chemicals, such as 
acetone and contaminated glassware, is between $2000 and $3000.

"I think it is about time they make the cookers pay for the cleanup," 
Franklin County Sheriff's Department Drug Officer Mike Bell stated when he 
learned about the state legislature approving the bill making the 
requirement and the governor signing it into law.

"We have to go into all kinds of environments to clean these things up and 
the taxpayers are having to pick up the bill for the cleanup."

"Everybody has to file an income tax form and a lot of the cookers get 
refunds, so why not get with the federal government and get their income 
tax checks until the cleanup is paid for," long time Winchester Police 
Department Drug Officer Danny Mantooth stated.

District Attorney Mike Taylor says he feels that collecting restitution 
payments from convicted felons could be an uphill battle. A convicted 
cooker with no prior record could spend at least ten years behind bars 
under the bill.

Taylor explained that a judgement is handed down and they go to prison, 
"they aren't working." Both Mantooth and Bell stated they felt that "any 
time money is taken out of people's pockets they think twice next time 
about trashing the environment."
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