Meth abusers target of police crackdown

Posted: 14th June 2012 by Doc in Uncategorized
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Methamphetamine makers and abusers are the target of a crackdown by Butler County law enforcement officials.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said the county’s drug task force is focusing on crimes involving methamphetamines. Those arrested are also promised swift justice with the prosecutor’s office “rocket docket.”

On Monday, a couple under surveillance by sheriff’s office task force was arrested after acquiring chemicals, equipment and paraphernalia to cook meth in several county stores.

Jeramy Ray Crawford, 26, of West Chester Twp. and Jessica Melchior, 24, of Maineville, are facing charges of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for manufacture of drugs, a third-degree felony.

That arrest came less than a week after a suspected methamphetamine manufacturing operation was busted by the unit in Liberty Twp.

Detectives say all the elements needed to manufacture methamphetamine were found inside the Hamilton-Mason Road residence of Danny R. and Victoria Burke. Danny Burke, 58, and a man stopped in a vehicle outside the residence, Michael Murray, 33 of Scott Road, Oxford, were charged with illegal manufacture of drugs and illegal possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs. Victoria Burke, 57, Danny’s wife, is charged with possession of drugs and permitting drug abuse.

Jones promises more arrests are to come. Undercover detectives are collecting information for a third meth operation that will be presented directly to the grand jury in the near future.

The sheriff said not only is meth highly addictive and horribly disfiguring to users, but it is a threat to communities because “cooking” the chemical-based drug can lead to explosions and leaking of toxic chemicals.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has placed accused meth manufacturers on his “rocket docket.” Meaning there are no continuations, unless requested by the defense, and no plea bargains.

On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted four people on one count each of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs and complicity to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, with specifications that the alleged assembly was done in the vicinity of children, in connection with a bust earlier this spring in Liberty Twp. Deanna M. Vance, 33, David H. Hatfield, 45, William J. Sickler, 46, and Christopher Bishop, 29, all in Hamilton, were inducted.

Gmoser is scheduled to try the case himself. While the foursome were not actually found making meth, they had the ingredients needed in the vicinity of a child, which increases the offense to a second-degree felony.

Both the prosecutor and the sheriff pointed to the fact that meth is “homegrown” as one big reason for the crackdown.

“They are making it right here in Butler County,” Gmoser said. He noted meth making is the cause of regulation of certain cold and allergy medications in drug stores throughout the country.

Meth lab clean up is pricey with most police agencies getting little state help, Gmoser said. He noted he does have a $5,000 grant from a pharmaceutical company that he’s saving “for one good clean up,” when it’s needed.

But making meth is cheap to make requiring ordinary products like drain cleaner and pseudeoephedrine, which is found in cold and allergy medicine.

“It has physical, motional and economic affects,” Gmoser said.

He said meth making often involves many people, referred to as “Smurfs” who work with the meth cooker to hit numerous drug stores obtaining pseudeoephedrine and bypass the allowable package limit per purchaser.

“You’ve heard the term, ‘it takes a village.’ Well it takes a village to make meth,” Gmoser said.

Jones said meth production, which used to be seen mostly in rural areas, has invaded the cities making it even more dangerous in heavily populated neighborhoods, while others are driving around with ingredients in cars.

“It is very dangerous,” Jones said. “And it is a focus right now. It is what we are concentrating on at this point.”



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