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Meth in America Not in Our Town

By Staff
DRUG FORUM U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, left, and Asa Hutchinson, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, answered questions from law enforcement officers Wednesday at East Mississippi Electric Power Association. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / special to The Star
May 30, 2002
While you hear a lot about Colombian cartels and Middle Eastern poppy farmers, drug dealers in Mississippi are more likely to be good ol' Bubbas cooking up methamphetamine in the kitchen.
That was the message Wednesday night in Meridian, as U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering and Asa Hutchinson, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, hosted a forum for law enforcement officers.
The visit was part of Hutchinson's 30-state "Meth in America Not in Our Town" tour. Hutchinson's goal is to raise public awareness, assess law enforcement readiness and figure out ways the DEA can help.
Meth sells on the street under names like "crystal," "ice" and "glass." It works on the central nervous system, sparking a "rush" usually followed by agitation, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse's Web site.
In the last five years the manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine rose to epidemic proportions, Hutchinson said, particularly in rural communities lacking the resources and training to nab the "cookers" as makers of meth are called.
Meth is the No. 1 drug produced, distributed and sold in rural America. Last year alone, law enforcement officers shut down 200 methamphetamine labs in Mississippi, Pickering said.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie agreed.
Meridian, Lauderdale County and Clark County share a 10-officer drug task force, the East Mississippi Drug Task Force, trained at the Regional Counter-Drug Training Academy.
RCTA teaches 38 civilian law enforcement courses that cover the basics of narcotics investigation, drug identification and surveillance techniques, RCTA Director Orrin Fuelling said.
From its facility at Naval Air Station Meridian, RCTA has trained 4,500 officers from five states Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. It operates on a $4.2 million federal budget, said RCTA Counter-Drug Coordinator Earl Pierce.
The ingredients needed to make methamphetamine are easily researched and readily available. Meth labs are dangerous because of the possibility of explosions; it takes trained law enforcement officers to dismantle them safely.