Pubdate: Thu, 22 Apr 2004
Source: Tullahoma News (TN)
Copyright: The Tullahoma News 2004
Author: Wayne Thomas
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Members of the Franklin County Commission received some eye opening 
information during their regular meeting Monday on the methamphetamine 
problem here.

Franklin County Sheriff's Drug Investigator Mike Bell, who is one of three 
people that started cleaning up chemicals allegedly used in the production 
of methamphetamines in 1995, gave the commissioners the history of how the 
drugs started to show up here.

He told the commissioners that the problem spread from the West Coast to 
the Mississippi River and stopped. But one of the alleged "cookers got 
caught and decided that since he had family living in Lincoln County, that 
he could move back to Tennessee and no one would bother them." Another one 
was a truck driver who was traveling to the West Coast and decided to set 
up shop in Grundy County. Bell explained that he later moved to Franklin 
County and started to teach other people how to cook the deadly brew. "The 
problem has continued to grow since then," Bell explained. He added that in 
2001, the federal government spent $66,000 to clean up the illegal labs. 
"In 2003, we had 59 labs here and it cost the federal government $177,000 
to clean up the chemicals," Bell stated. He added that as of March 20, the 
Federal Drug Enforcement Agency figures show that 20 labs have been found 
here in Franklin County and the federal government has paid $60,000 to 
clean up those labs. Bell let each commissioner set the pseudoephedrine 
pills that are used in the production of the drug. He added that the 
ingredients used can often be "found in most any home of the county." But 
he said that most people don't purchase the large quantities of the 
chemicals for home usage. Most of the commissioners stated after Bell's 
presentation that they appreciated his taking time to inform them about the 
problem. After the meeting, many of the commissioners expressed surprise of 
the chemicals involved in the production of the drug. "I think more people 
need to learn about how dangerous this problem really is," Commissioner 
Barbara Finney said. "I was surprised at the number of people involved with 
this drug," Commissioner Jean Snead stated. "I just hope something can be 
done to curb the sale of the ingredients and hopefully curb the production 
of the drugs," Commissioner Hogan McDonald stated.

Bell said Wednesday that he applauds the renewed effort of the state 
legislature to curb the sell of more than three packages of the 
over-the-counter cold tablets containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. 
Earlier this year, lawmakers State Sen. Jerry Cooper and Rep. Judd Matheny 
were leading the way in trying to come up with a comprehensive meth bill, 
but were unable to reach consensus on the measure. Instead, Gov. Phil 
Bredesen is to appoint a meth task force, which will present its 
recommendation by Sept. 1.
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