Pubdate: Wed, 10 Aug 2005
Source: Winona Daily News (MN)
Copyright: 2005 Winona Daily News
Author: Darrell Ehrlick, Winona Daily News
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The Wabasha County Sheriff's Office announced that five people were 
arrested on methamphetamine charges in two separate incidents over the weekend.

The arrests alarm Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh because it signals a 
resurgence of the drug that he thought had been partially chased out of the 
county in 2004 when law enforcement took down 15 meth labs.

The appearance of "ice" or "glass" - a more powerful and pure form of meth 
- - troubles Bartsh. It is the first time authorities have noticed its 
presence in Wabasha County.

On Friday, the sheriff's office and Plainview Police arrested Jeremy Lee 
Dahl, 27, of Plainview and Chad Curtis Koenig, 24, at a Plainview 
apartment. Their arrest is the culmination of a two-month investigation, 
according to police reports.

Authorities found more than three ounces of what was later found to be 
meth. Also, $4,000 in cash was seized, the report said.

"This will hopefully be a wake-up call for the citizens of this area in the 
fact that meth is still here," Bartsh said.

On Saturday, Wabasha County deputies arrested two men and a woman near Oak 
Center after a traffic stop. Deputies arrested Laura Lee Ryan, 19, Lake 
City, Minn.; Aaron William Pahl, 20, Lake City; and Nathan Allen Casey, 20, 
Lake City, each on suspicion of fifth-degree possession of a controlled 

"It's starting all over again and this time it's glass," Bartsh said.

He said glass, named because of its clear, shard-like appearance, has a 
slightly higher street value. It involves other steps in addition to 
standard methamphetamine manufacturing. While Bartsh credits area law 
enforcement agencies and the Southeastern Minnesota Narcotics Task Force 
for helping shut down meth labs, dealers are beginning to import the drug 
into the county.

In 2003, authorities shut five labs down, last year, they found 15. This 
year, none have been reported.

Bartsh is unclear where the meth is coming from.

"We know it is in Rochester, but we don't know if it's coming from the Twin 
Cities or Mexico or California," Bartsh said.

More importantly, he's seeing young users and more affluent users as well.

"A lot of middle class kids and a lot of women are using it for weight 
loss. We're trying to send the message that it is dangerous," Bartsh said. 
"Right now we're worried about the high schools."

He said schools are struggling to find the funding for resource officers to 
help with the problem.

"Talking to them once a year is not going to help, we need more," Bartsh said.

Bartsh believes the community might be listening. Earlier this year when 
David Parnell, a former methamphetamine user turned motivational speaker 
visited, more than 700 people turned out for 390 seats.

But Bartsh admits that numbers can be used both ways. While numbers of 
concerned citizens grows, so, too, does the county's estimation of meth 
users which Bartsh pegs at between 100 and 500.

He points to a jail inmate population that's growing. This year, Wabasha 
County will spend more than $400,000 to house prisoners outside the county. 
In 2002, the average inmate population was 13, today it averages 30. Bartsh 
said 30 to 40 percent of that increase is due to meth.

"Unfortunately we're just getting the tip of the iceberg here. The meth 
problem is back in full swing," Bartsh said. "And, it's scary."
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