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City marshal's take on meth use, manufacture

By City Marshal James "Charlie" Hicks Special to t

Courtesy photo
Onto genesis of a tweaker

I have spent 15 years of my law enforcement career working narcotics investigations. During that time, I found methamphetamine usage and sales to be the most prevalent drug of choice - and truly the most addictive and damaging drug to society today. For these reasons, I want to share some information regarding the dangers of methamphetamine use and manufacture.
At present, drug users have found meth easy to manufacture because of its low cost, easy-to-find ingredients and relative long-lasting high. What they fail to take into consideration is the toll methamphetamine takes on the user's appearance and how severely it affects the remainder of their lives. Unfortunately, I have seen only a small portion of users who were able to walk away from this particular drug without any long-lasting effects on themselves or their families.
Because of a recent methamphetamine arrest, I want to make everyone aware of some of the trends, effects and chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. Keeping this information in mind should make it easier to recognize meth users and manufacturers on the streets or elsewhere.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug, meaning it gives users a sense of alertness. The drug can also cause paranoia, insomnia, mood swings, weight and tooth loss and abscess sores forming on the skin, along with other ill effects. Long time usage can lead to permanent changes in personality, leaving a person with clinical depression issues.
In the old days, meth was predominately manufactured by outlaw biker gangs and entailed a lengthy process. Currently, most of the major manufactures of methamphetamine are Mexican drug cartel members - due to the fact that ephedrine is not controlled in Mexico like it is now in the US.
These days, the method of "cooking" - aka manufacturing - meth has become so refined that it can be as simple as using two large plastic soda bottles, some plastic tubing and some locally bought chemicals. Two hours later, the methamphetamine is ready to use.
Some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of meth include Coleman fuel, large amount of matches because of the red phosphorous contained in the strike plates, Red Devil Lye, Heet Fuel Treatment, iodine from either tincture of iodine or purchased from a veterinarian where it is used to strengthen horse hooves and cold tablets which contain pseudoephedrine. Most of the ingredients are available at local stores.
Unfortunately, when combined, some of these chemicals can cause explosions and fires. The chemicals are also toxic if inhaled.
Additionally, the "before" and "after" photographs of a meth user may help everyone understand this drug's disastrous effects.
Anyone who comes in contact with anything that looks or feels similar to this or anyone with concerns is urged to contact me by calling 830-796-3456. I will do my best to help.