Pubdate: Thu, 17 Nov 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jordan Schrader, staff writer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


CULLOWHEE -- To illustrate how methamphetamine has grown into an
epidemic in North Carolina, officials point to the surging number of
meth lab busts: nine in all of 1999, five in the past week alone.

But that's not the whole story, officials caution. As they take heart
from predictions that meth production may be leveling off -- they've
uncovered 294 labs so far this year, and may not surpass last year's
total of 322 -- they warn about another problem.

"We're going to turn (our) attention to targeting these kingpins who
are bringing these drugs into our country," N.C. Attorney General Roy
Cooper said Wednesday while attending a summit on the meth problem.

Shutting down meth labs has become a top law enforcement priority, in
part because of the danger they pose to children and neighbors.

A highly addictive and powerful stimulant, methamphetamine is
manufactured partly with cold medicines containing ephedrine and
pseudoephedrine, and its byproducts can be toxic.

But more meth comes from Mexico than from local labs, said Assistant
Special Agent in Charge John Emerson of the U.S. Drug Enforcement

The conference brought law-enforcement officials and experts from
fields such as social services and health care to Western Carolina
University. They shared horror stories and success stories about meth
and charted the future of the problem.

"We are beginning to see some progress," said Rutherford County Chief
Deputy Sheriff Phil Byers, "but the fight is yet to come."

Some speakers, including Byers and Principal Chief Michell Hicks of
the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, explained successful techniques.

Since identifying meth addiction as a major problem, Hicks said, the
tribe has established an anonymous drug hotline, encouraged
neighborhood watches and connected them with police, sought felony
convictions for dealers and expanded drug and mental-health treatment.

Thanks to those efforts over the past two years, Hicks said, "Cherokee
is winning the war on drugs."
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