Pubdate: Mon, 25 Apr 2005
Source: Advertiser-Tribune, The (Tiffin, OH)
Contact:  2005 The Advertiser-Tribune
Author: Patrick Ison
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Small rural towns are viewed by many as a quiet place to settle down
and raise a family. Artwork created by Norman Rockwell has helped
shape many perceptions of innocence and serenity in small towns.
Unfortunately, those qualities which have attracted people to live in
small towns have caught the attention of unwelcome residents -
methamphetamine producers.

Rural areas offer two advantages to producers of the drug. Production
can occur without attracting attention and producers have access to
anhydrous ammonia, which is used to produce the drug. Anhydrous
ammonia is a fertilizer used on non-legume crops as a way of adding
nitrogen to the soil.

According to the Ohio State University extension office and Ohio Farm
Bureau, it can be difficult to realize that anhydrous ammonia has been
stolen because thieves don't typically steal large amounts. Some
indicators that could alert farmers to the theft of anhydrous ammonia
include evidence that valves on the tank are not in the correct
position. Another indicator could be items that should not be around
the tank. These items include duct tape, garden hose, plastic tubing,
bicycle inner tubes, thermos bottles or propane tanks.

Tips to prevent theft include installing a lock on tanks and having
anhydrous ammonia delivered as close to the actual time of application
as possible.

Detective Charles Boyer, coordinator of the Seneca County Drug Task
Force - METRICH Enforcement Unit, said the anhydrous ammonia method of
production is known as the "Nazi" method. The meth produced using this
method is more pure and can be produced much faster than by another
method utilizing red phosphorus.

Two meth labs have been discovered in Seneca county in the past year
and a half, Boyer said.

The biggest meth lab on US 23 was using the anhydrous ammonia method
to produce the drug. The Drug Enforcement Agency was called in from
Toledo to clean up the lab.

Because the wastes produced are extremely toxic, protective suits must
be worn by clean-up crews.

Boyer estimated the cost to clean up the meth labs in Seneca County at
around $30,000 each. The labs discovered had not yet been producing
the drug. Boyer stressed the importance of reporting a possible theft
of anhydrous ammonia to law enforcement. He said that if valves are
not in the position that they had been the night before, contact
authorities. Boyer believes that people in this area are going to see
an increase in the frequency at which meth labs are discovered.

Blake Rossel, location manager at Walton Agri-Service in Carey, said
that anhydrous ammonia is monitored every day for possible theft. The
area is checked to make sure that valves are in the correct position
and that there are no items in the area that could indicate theft.
Rossel said, to his knowledge, Walton Agri-Service has never had
anhydrous ammonia stolen from that location. He said someone had
purchased it using another person's name.

As soon as it was discovered it was not being used for agriculture,
the sheriff's office was notified.

To discourage theft after the fertilizer has left the facility, it is
applied as soon as it is taken out to the field.

A new product on the market added to anhydrous may reduce the
instances of theft. The product, called Glo-Tell, is gaining
acceptance in areas that meth production has been a problem.

According to information obtained from the company Web site, the
product turns pink when it is exposed to the air, staining everything
it that comes in contact with it.

The pink staining agent offers two benefits to farmers. The first
benefit is that tank or hose leaks are easily spotted. The second
benefit is when it is used in the production of meth, it stains the
drug pink. When someone uses the pink-colored drug, the method of
administering it becomes evident in a pink residue around their nose,
or a pink area around the site of injection. Even if the color can be
washed off, it is still visible using a black light for up to 72 hours.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake