Comments Off on Methamphetamine (ICE) is taking the area by storm

The disappearance of small shake and bake one-pot labs has given mass-producing super labs a ready-made market for the newest form of methamphetamine — ICE.56d260b28c7e0_image

“Years and years ago, you had the large cooks, then from 2005 to 2007, we saw a little of the ICE emerging,” said Tim Glover, director of the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force. “We chased that around, and it forced people into the shake and bake one-pot labs.”

Those labs began to disappear after laws restricting the purchase of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in meth, “slowed them down, way down,” Glover said.

Today, most of the crystal meth is being produced in big labs in Mexico, said Dennis Sharp, director of the Lawrence County Drug Task Force.

“This stuff is coming from the super labs out of Mexico by the way of California,” Sharp said. “The dealers saw this as a ready-made market and started moving in.”

Melvin Patterson, a public information officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency, said the Mexican cartels who have these “super labs” have targeted smaller areas for their product.

“These labs are in the jungles of Mexico, but the ICE is making its way north, into the U.S. and then it’s going everywhere,” Patterson said. “It started on the West Coast and it is working its way east.“

ICE is fast becoming the drug of choice in this area, according to local agents.

“(The dealers) are killing us with ICE,” said Lt. Bill Doelle, director of the 22nd Judicial District Drug Task Force that covers Wayne, Lawrence, Maury and Giles counties in Tennessee. “Crack cocaine used to be a major problem; it’s almost nonexistent. ICE is taking us by storm.”

Local agents said they have already investigated more ICE cases in the first two months of this year than all of last year.

“This year alone, we have made 12 to 15 ICE cases, and that’s just two of us working it,” said Sgt. Joe Hargett, of the Franklin County Drug Unit. “If we had four to six agents working, it would be much worse.

“There’s not a day goes by that we couldn’t go out and buy ICE if we had enough people to work the cases.”

The same goes for Lauderdale and Colbert counties.

Curtis Burns, director of the Colbert County Drug Task Force, said his department has investigated 22 ICE cases this year. From March to December 2015, they only made 10.

“We have 20 pending drug cases to be presented to the grand jury; 75 percent of those are ICE,” Burns said.

Glover said Lauderdale County drug agents worked 19 ICE cases in 2015, and have already worked more than 20 this year.

Drug agents said the ICE is coming into the region in shipments from the West Coast and Mexico.

“And a lot of it is being delivered by the U.S. Postal Service,” Doelle said. “We have intercepted several packages with 4 to 5 pounds of ICE.”

In January, Colbert County Drug Task Force agents working with Leighton police and the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office seized a pound of what was described as “high grade” ICE, and 2 pounds of medical-grade marijuana that had been shipped to the Leighton post office.

Agents arrested two Colbert County men who picked up the package.

“That shipment was worth $100,000,” Burns said. “That was just one (package). It’s also being shipped by UPS and FedEx. We got one (package); how many more got through?”

The drug also continues to be brought in by automobiles.

“There is a lot of (drug) interdiction on I-10 from Texas to Florida, and in Georgia on I-85, and around Hoover on I-65 and I-20, but funding cutbacks have hampered those efforts,” Burns said. “And for every one car or truck that is stopped and ICE is found, there’s at least 10 that didn’t get stopped.”

Glover said 90 percent of the cases his agents are working involve ICE.

“And it’s not just small amounts anymore. It’s large quantities,” he said. “We’re seeing people with quarter pounds and pounds, not just an ounce or gram.”

He said users are melting the drug and shooting it up with needles, or smoking it.

“Meth is supposed to be the worst drug to use one time because you can get addicted to it,” Burns said. “We are seeing more and more crack users turn to ICE. It’s at an all-time high.”

Sharp said ICE is quickly becoming the major drug problem in the region.

“We’ve got pills, other drugs and now ICE,” Sharp said. “We’ve been fighting meth and pills for years, and now we’re going to have fight ICE also. It’s a never-ending battle.”



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