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Ice' flowing on Mississippi highways

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
March 21, 2004
The ice flowing on highways through Meridian these days has nothing to do with the weather.
The transportation of illicit drugs such as crystalmeth and marijuana continues to plague law enforcement officers and one of the main trails runs right through our town.
Drug corridor
If you see Meridian Police Department vehicles sitting on the shoulder of the interstate, chances are officers are looking for something specific in the traffic flow. Meridian is located astride one of the most heavily traveled transportation corridors for illegal drugs, one that runs from San Diego across the Southern U.S. and then up into the Northeast.
A Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Special Agent told Meridian Kiwanians last week that as many as seven in 10 vehicles moving along the corridor are carrying contraband.
In an enlightening presentation that touched on several aspects of his work, the agent outlined the problem, including the easy access to ingredients that makes meth such an attractive product for some people. He said in a recent search of the Internet he found more than 7,000 recipes for the concoction.
The central ingredient is ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines and diet pills. Since 1990, the Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers against products containing ephedrine because it can cause heart attacks, seizures and strokes.
Depending on the recipe, other ingredients used to make meth can be found in lithium camera batteries, matches, tincture of iodine and hydrogen peroxide. Some recipes also use ingredients such as charcoal lighter fluid, paint thinner, gasoline, kerosene, rubbing alcohol and mineral spirits.
Corrosive products are used during the "cooking process," such as sulfuric acid in battery acid or sodium hydroxide from lye-based drain cleaners.
Added step
Crystal methamphetamine requires an added step to convert powder meth to crystals. The product is most often produced by dissolving the powder with a solvent such as methanol, acetone, ethanol or isopropanol and then slowly letting it recrystallize.
My own quick search of the Internet the other day the Honolulu Star Bulletin published an excellent series of articles in September 2003 revealed that the use of methamphetamine dates to the early 1900s in Japan and, as early as 1932, meth was used as a nasal decongestant and as one of the first antidepressants. During World War II, historians say, soldiers took methamphetamine to fight fatigue and reduce hunger.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Swedish clinics used meth as a treatment for heroin addiction, much the same way methadone has been used in the United States. Doctors quit the treatments after recognizing that patients developed psychoses on relatively low doses of the drug.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, U.S. pharmaceutical companies introduced meth as a prescription drug for weight loss.
Traffic stops
Over the past couple of years, law officers have recovered more than $50 million in traffic stops along San Diego-to the-Northeast corridor. Most often, they find marijuana bricks that had been compressed into manageable size.
From finding illegal drugs hidden in bumpers or tires of automobiles to tons of cash hidden in an 18-wheeler, law officers are doing their best to catch modern day smugglers whose products are so destructive.
I salute the uniformed and undercover operatives whose mission is to interrupt the flow of illegal drugs. We owe them a great debt of thanks.