Law Enforcement says since 2010 Upper Michigan meth lab cleanups have quadrupled costing the local drug team an additional $25,000 in expenses in 2012
MARQUETTE — It’s one of the most dangerous, and addictive, drugs on the market consuming, and changing, its users like you’d never believe.
Law Enforcement says since 2010 Upper Michigan meth lab cleanups
“It goes into your brain and creates more dopamine,” Rober Ruska explained, a Drug and Alcohol Counselor at Marquette General Hospital. “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is part of your pleasure center in your brain.”
Methamphetamine triggers heightened energy and euphoria for six to 12 hours while boosting one’s confidence, focus, and sexuality. But this harsh drug takes an enormous toll on the body both mentally, and physically.
“It changes your brain,” urged Ruska. “How it functions, decision making process, motor functions, your teeth degrade really fast.”
What’s even scarier is it’s cheap and easy to make. Its ingredients, pseudoephedrine, fuel, fertilizers and batteries, are all found in retail stores granting easy access to addicts.
“The amount of reported incidents of meth manufacturing is on the uprise,” said Detective Sgt. Chris Croley with Michigan State Police.
Law enforcement says a new mobile method of manufacturing is responsible. It’s called a one-pot-cook, or shake and bake, and for $50 meth users can make enough for three highs. Once in the bottle the chemicals react, building pressure. Any weakness in the plastic or oxygen getting inside, can end ugly. And, according to police, that’s what happened to more than half of their controlled tests. As dangerous as it is they aren’t rare. Police say more meth users are manufacturing by combining these unstable components in plastic bottles. Once cooked, the danger isn’t over; what’s left remains toxic, and explosive, forcing the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, or UPSET, to wear layers of protective clothing to clean what’s being left behind.
“They’re dumping them in and around parks, in the ditch on the roadsides, in dumpsters,” explained Croley.
And the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, or U.P.S.E.T., say thousands of dollars of their resources are being drained to clean up the mess.
Recently the team spent $2,000 to clean a site in Marquette County. According to U.P.S.E.T., it was one of their cheaper jobs. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) covers only some of the officer’s wages but travel, equipment, and even overtime all fall on U.P.S.E.T., which operates on donations.
“Our U.P.S.E.T. budget yearly costs about $188,000 dollars a year,” said Detective Lt. Timothy Scholander of U.P.S.E.T.
The drug team says the rising number of meth cleanups is straining their budget. From 2010 to 2012 the number quadrupled from 11 to 44, costing U.P.S.E.T. an extra $25,000 in 2012.
“They range from $3,000 to $10,000 anytime we go to a lab,” Scholander explained.
The components are highly hazardous, capable of releasing gases that could burn person’s lungs or even ignite into flames forcing officers to wear layers of protective clothing.
“We have to wear the chemical suits, the breathing apparatus, and the protective gear just to keep ourselves safe when we’re going to clean this stuff up to dispose of it properly,” said Scholander.
U.P.S.E.T. gear for one officer is roughly $800 and equipment lifespan can vary from one use to a year. Equipment includes multiple layers of gloves, four different protective suits for various levels of dangers, and respirators.
“These are used if there’s high risk of fire,” Scholander said.
Although rising numbers are concerning UPSET offices believe awareness is one of the best weapons in the war on drugs.
“We’ve reached out across the whole Upper Peninsula and gone into schools and done drug awareness programs, educated police officers, and firefighters,” Scholander explained. “I think the more meth labs we see is also a part of the publics being educated on what to watch out for.”
Be weary of battery pieces, aluminum foil, burned bottles and even thing tubing. Law enforcement urge anyone encountering a meth lab dump site to call 911 and keep their distance.
If you would like to donate to U.P.S.E.T. you can contact Detective Lieutenant Timothy Scholander at 906-346-9289 or by mail at:
P.O. Box 364
Gwinn, M.I. 49841