Drug Awareness - Focus: Methamphetamines by Bob Chambers July 2008
WHAT IS METHAMPHETAMINE?
Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant drug that dramatically affects the central nervous system. It is usually illegally produced and distributed. Meth comes in several forms, including powder, crystal, rocks, and tablets. When it comes in the crystal form it is called "crystal meth." Meth can be taken by swallowing, snorting, smoking, or injecting it with a hypodermic needle.
HOW IS METH MADE?
Unlike drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, which are derived from plants, meth can be manufactured using a variety of store bought chemicals. The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth. The ingredients that are used in the process of making meth can include: ether, paint thinner, Freon, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain
cleaner, battery acid, and lithium (taken from inside batteries).
Meth is often manufactured or "cooked" in very crude laboratories. Many of these labs are not sophisticated operations and do not require sophisticated chemistry equipment. And the people who cook the meth usually do not have any chemistry training. Cooking meth is relatively simple, but highly dangerous and toxic.
There are two basic categories of meth labs:
produce large quantities of meth and supply organized drug trafficking groups that sell the drug in communities across the U.S. Most of the larger labs are controlled by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations operating in the U.S. and Mexico.
Small Toxic Labs
produce smaller quantities of meth. These labs can be set up in homes, motel rooms, inside automobiles, and in parks or rural areas – really almost anywhere.
HOW DOES METH AFFECT A USER?
Using meth causes an increase in energy and alertness, a decrease in appetite, and an intense euphoric "rush." That’s in the short term.
With sustained use, a meth user can develop a tolerance to it. The user may take increasingly higher doses of meth trying to catch that high he/she first experienced. He/she may take it more frequently or may go on binges. She may change the way she takes meth. For example a user may have started by taking a pill, but as she develops a tolerance she may begin injecting it. Addiction is likely. In the long term, a person using meth may experience irritability, fatigue,
headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion, aggressive feelings, violent rages, cravings for more meth, and depression. They may become psychotic and experience paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions. The paranoia may lead to homicidal or suicidal thoughts. A fairly common hallucination experienced by meth users is the so-called crank bug. The user gets the sensation that there are insects creeping on top of, or underneath, her skin. The user will pick at or scratch her skin trying to get rid of the imaginary bugs. This scratching can create open sores that may become infected.
Meth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. Meth users also consume excess sugared, carbonated soft drinks, tend to neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth and clench their jaws, leading to what is commonly called "meth mouth." Teeth can eventually fall out of users’ mouths—even as they do simple things like eating a sandwich.
High doses of meth can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels. High doses can also cause convulsions.
People can die as a result of using meth. Because meth is so addictive, the distance between the short and long term effects may not be very long.
HOW DOES METH AFFECT EVERYONE ELSE?
As you can imagine, all those toxic chemicals used in the meth manufacturing process take a toll on the environment. Every pound of meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste that may seep into the soil and groundwater.
The manufacturing process also generates toxic fumes. These fumes can severely harm anyone exposed to them. Meth labs also generate highly explosive gases. Meth also has a very serious impact on children. Many children are rescued from homes with meth labs or meth using parents. Meth, chemicals, and syringes are all within reach of these children. Parents high on meth neglect their children. And the mental, physical, and emotional consequences for these Drug Endangered Children are often severe.
Recently, some residents of La Junta have reported being the victims of several different types of scams that have been plaguing the area. Some of them have been defrauded for several thousands of dollars and have had their savings wiped out. If you have been sent a notification for any unsolicited financial windfall, lottery or sweepstakes winnings be very suspicious of the offer. These scams prey on people’s hopes and dreams of "winning it big."
Most of the scams originate outside of the US and are very difficult to prosecute. Due to these international boundaries and jurisdictions the people responsible for the scams are hardly ever prosecuted or even found. Therefore, the victims are rarely able to recover their losses. This makes the scams very profitable for the crooks and they are turning up with greater regularity.
Some of the scams require a processing fee of some sort requiring the victim to send money to get their prize. It is usually small compared to the winnings so the victim thinks it is worth it to pay the fee to get the prize. No legitimate lottery will charge you a fee to get your money; you will have to pay taxes to the Government on your winnings but you should never have to pay a fee to an agent or middleman to get them.
Many of these types of scams include a phony check or money order to cover these fees. The check is for the victim to cash and send the proceeds to the listed company or agent. This scam works because it takes days or weeks for the check to clear the banking system and for the local bank to determine that it is phony or counterfeit, meanwhile the victim is on the hook for the entire amount of the cashed phony check.
One scam had a man call the victim and claim to be with a Law Enforcement Agency. He told her to go along with the scam because he was getting ready to arrest the perpetrator and he assured the victim that he could not do this without the victim’s help. He told the victim that he would intercept their money and they would not be out anything. This of course did not happen. This scam preyed on the victim’s good will to assist in getting a bad guy off the street.
Other scammers claim to be royalty with huge sums of money tied up in a foreign country, usually in Africa. They offer a cut of the proceeds if you will help them move the cash into your account. They then get your bank information to defraud you with or charge a fee to get the money. Another similar scam claims to have an inheritance for you from a long lost relative and they require a fee to distribute the money.
Please remember that anything that seems too good to be true probably is. In this day and age one must be very skeptical of any offer received from someone they do not know and trust. Especially when the offer is not entered by you, initiated by you, or solicited by you.
If you believe that you might be getting scammed you must immediately get in touch with law enforcement, DO NOT send any money to anyone before you talk to the Police. There are websites that are dedicated to getting you information and for you to report possible scams. One such site is
www.phonebusters.com. They have a lot of useful information and should be checked out even if you are not a victim of a crime.