Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jun 2003
Source: Grundy County Herald (TN)
Copyright: Grundy County Herald 2003
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."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens