Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jul 2004
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2004sThe Advertiser Co.
Author: Crystal Bonvillian


Crystal methamphetamine is making its presence known in Montgomery.
Last year, the number of arrests for the drug increased by nearly five
times, going from 11 arrests in 2002 to 51 in 2003, police statistics

"Meth is not coming rapidly, but it is coming," said Lt. B.J.
McCullough of the Montgomery Police Department's Special Operations

Laura Corley, emergency consultant for Bradford Health Services, a
private drug treatment facility with an office in Montgomery, agreed.

"Crystal meth is booming," Corley said. "We get a lot of referrals
from court. The problem is, it is just such a fast-addicting chemical,
especially in your 20s."

McCullough said some of the appeal of crystal meth is that it can be
manufactured locally.

"It's not imported, like cocaine," McCullough said. "It is easy to get
the ingredients. You can buy most of it at the store, or steal it from
somewhere, like stealing the hydrous ammonia from farmers."

Hydrous ammonia, a chemical used for fertilizer, is one of the more
complicated ingredients of the drug. It is also made with household
items, like drain cleaner and over the counter "pep pills" that
contain ephedra.

McCullough said the chemicals used to "cook" meth are what makes it so

"You mix it wrong, it can explode," he said. "Montgomery has not had
that happen, but you hear stories about it happening in other places."

Because of the chemicals used, the drug is very toxic, Corley

"It is a very nasty drug, and it does a lot of damage," Corley said,
describing side effects that include lack of sleep and appetite,
paranoia, hallucinations and, sometimes, psychosis.

Corley said meth, also known in its pure form as "crank" or "ice,"
makes people hostile and angry, and causes them to do anything they
have to in order to continue their habit. She said it hits any age or
economic status.

"With 13- to 18-year-olds, it is usually marijuana you see," she said,
"but in the past six months, I've had two highly meth-addicted
17-year-old girls, both from middle-to upper-class families.

"It is not a discriminating drug," Corley said. "It don't care if you
come out of the projects or out of Wynlakes."

Another drug the police and drug counselors see a lot is marijuana.
According to statistics, the number of arrests for marijuana has
fallen in the past three years, from 359 in 2001 to 283 in 2002. It
remained steady in 2003 with 281.

The decline does not mean the drug is being eradicated completely,
McCullough said. People who use marijuana tend to do so because they
think it isn't quite as bad as some other drugs.

"They think marijuana is OK," he said, "but it's still illegal. Some
people think of crack as being too strong for them and they're scared
to make meth. They turn to marijuana."

Arrests for both crack and cocaine have also declined in recent years.
Crack has gone from 161 arrests in 2001 to 146 in 2003. Cocaine went
up in 2002 from 20 arrests to 40, but dropped slightly in 2003 to only

Pharmaceutical drugs, or prescription drugs, have also been waning,
with only 10 arrests in 2003. In 2001, 31 people were arrested for
illegal prescription drug use and, in 2002, 16 arrests were made.

McCullough said despite the progress that has seemingly been made in
the war on drugs, it is a constant battle.

"There are gonna be drug dealers and they will try to evade the law,"
he said. "They have no rules, but we do. We have to apply those rules
according to the law." 
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