Comments Off on Methamphetamine abuse responsible for many crimes; destroying lives

ADA — “It destroys a person,” Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian said about methamphetamine use. “It destroys their bone structure, their mental health, their teeth. It’s just unbelievable that you’re putting a poison into your body. That’s going to have devastating effects.”

And a poison it is. The ingredients of methamphetamine, also known as speed, crystal meth, meth and crank, include drain cleaner, battery acid, antifreeze and lantern fuel.

It has an overwhelming effect on the body’s central nervous system, decreasing appetite and increasing alertness.

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, meth causes agitation, increased body temperature and paranoia, and it may even lead to a condition known as “amphetamine psychosis” and/or death.

The meth scourge is prevalent in Ada and the surrounding area. Of the just over 300 felonies charged in Pontotoc County since the beginning of 2015, at least 67 (about 22 percent) were for possession of methamphetamine. Many other crimes can be linked to its use.

“It’s very bad,” Christian said. “I would say it’s the number one drug used in the county. Prescription drug abuse is pretty close and runs hand in hand with meth use. It is the number one source of probably 90 percent of crimes in Pontotoc County. It’s directly related to the burglaries, the thefts, some of the assaults, but specifically the burglaries, thefts … property crimes.”

Christian said users often steal items to sell or trade for meth. He said through the Drug-Free Coalition, he conducted a survey done of inmates in the county jail, and nearly all admitted that drug use contributed to their predicament.

“Practically every one of them who answered the survey had some drug-related incident where they needed money to buy drugs or were using drugs when they committed their crime,” Christian said.

Christian said if drug abuse were non-existent in Pontotoc County, there would be a drastic reduction in crime.

In 2012, an Oklahoma bill became law that limited the amount of allergy and cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine — meth’s main ingredient — people could buy. This action by state legislators put a severe dent in the number of meth labs around the state, but users have found ways to get meth anyway.

“The drug labs did decrease drastically,” Christian said. “They went to the one-pot method and shake and bake, making small quantities for personal use mainly (shake and bake and the one-pot method is where a meth “cook” uses just a few pseudoephedrine pills and mixes it with noxious household chemicals to make the drug). We saw an increase in that afterwards, but what’s happened is the Mexican market has taken over. The influx of methamphetamine from Mexico is unbelievable.”

Ada Police Assistant Chief Jeff Crosby said much of the meth found during arrests in Ada is from Mexico. He said many dealers in the area get meth from other dealers in Oklahoma City, where it is transported up the I-35 corridor from Mexico.

In fact, Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman, confirmed much of the methamphetamine in Oklahoma comes from Mexico, and drug traffickers use Oklahoma’s interstate system to get the drug to dealers.

“Tougher laws on pseudoephedrine purchases have lowered lab seizures from 913 labs in 2011 to approximately 200 in 2014,” Woodward said. “However, use, addiction and meth-related deaths continue to climb as Mexican drug trafficking organizations are flooding the U.S. market with imported crystal meth or ice.”

Christian said the meth coming from Mexico is incredibly pure and strong.

“We see the effects of that,” he said. “We’ve had people having mental issues from using it. It’s so strong, they have hallucinations and mental apparitions that are not normal, and it is caused from the strength of the meth they are using now.”

Christian said he’s seen an increase in the number of people who suffer permanent mental and physical damage from meth use, even after quitting.

“They’re not concerned at all with the consequences to themselves or other people involved,” Christian said. “It doesn’t just affect them, it affects their family. I have seen it devastate families. Whether it’s their children or their parents, it’s horrible to see a mother who doesn’t know where her child is. They know (their children) are on meth. They don’t where they are, they don’t know what is going on in their life, they’re concerned and want to save them, but the drug user doesn’t want to be saved. It’s devastating to me to see what parents have to go through.”

Christian said new users of meth often plan on using in moderation but soon spin out of control, using whenever they can.

“I have been in law enforcement for 28 years,” he said. “When I started, meth was just becoming a big issue. Over those years, I have seen many, I couldn’t even give the numbers I’ve seen who were healthy, vibrant, hard-working people, who held down good jobs and literally destroy their lives and end up dead from their use.”

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Pontotoc County ranked fourth in Oklahoma for residents entering Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse-funded treatment with meth as their primary drug of choice from 2006 to 2008. The county’s rate was 19.7 admitted meth users per 10,000 residents, compared to the state rate of 6.8 users per 10,000.

According to the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment in 2008 — the latest records available — 1.7 percent of Pontotoc County students surveyed said they had used meth at least once and 15.1 percent said meth was easy to obtain, compared to 2 percent and 16.8 percent respectively of those surveyed statewide.

In 2014, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Audrey Estelle Farrington, 29, of Meade caused a horrific crash while she was under the influence of meth and other drugs. Farrington was driving north on state Highway 3 near Asher at a furious rate of speed in a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban when she attempted to pass a vehicle on a bridge and slammed head-on into a vehicle driven by Jodi Lopresto, who was on her way to work in Ada.

Lopresto suffered life-threatening injuries, and her heart stopped twice in the emergency room.

“My femurs were broken, my knees, my right foot (was broken) because I had just slammed on the brake so much that everything (was broken),” Lopresto recently told The Ada News. “I think the top of my foot wound up meeting the top of my shin or something.”

Zopresto had internal injuries and her jaw was also broken on both sides. Her vertabrae in her lower back were also damaged. She continues to recover and will require surgery to help her in her recovery.

An arrest warrant for “driving under the influence causing great bodily injury” was issued for Farington in January 2015. To this day, she has not been arrested.

http://www.theadanews.com/news/meth-abuse-responsible-for-many-crimes-destroying-lives/article_88b85af8-0e35-11e5-a06a-4396b33dcef7.html

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