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July 28, 2015 • Headlines

There was a good crowd Friday at the 4-H livestock auction. Many local businesses support the 4-Her’s hard work and bid on their livestock. The auction started at 3 p.m. with rabbits and ended with steers.
The Reserve Grand Champion Beef Steer raised by Maverick Dwenger sold for $1,500 at the Ripley Co. 4-H Fair Livestock Auction held Friday July 24. The Grand Champion steer owned by Will Neal did not sell at the auction but instead will be taken to the Indiana State Fair. For a complete list of names pick up a copy of the Osgood Journal at your local newsstand. LINDA CHANDLER PHOTO
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UPDATED July 28, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
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Meth: Dangerous not just to users, but to cooks and police

Mary Mattingly

Joe Uhler holds up a half full glass mason jar. It’s murky, with sediment at the bottom. He describes what is in it, things like lithium, acetone, lye. The top layer of oil has the coveted drug, meth. “I know a cook, a meth cook, who couldn’t wait until it solidified to snort it, so he drank it,” Uhler says. The audience gasps in disgust. Meth is a nasty drug, that does nasty things to your brain and body, he says. “Why would you want to put this in your body? I really have no idea.”

He has a better idea than most though. He is a state police officer, and has been on the meth suppression and marijuana eradication teams for four years. Jamey Sperle joins him on the meth team, and both were at the Osgood Town Hall on July 9 to share their knowledge of the drug with the Ripley County Drug Awareness Coalition. There were about 25 in attendance representing law enforcement, health care, education, state and local social service agencies, probation, courts, and concerned parents. Many of these people deal with drug users, whether it be through the court system or recovery programs.

ISP Officer Jamey Sperle


Officer Jamey Sperle shows a glass jar with meth ingredients. He works in Ripley and Franklin County on the state police meth suppression team.

The two officers live and work in Ripley and Franklin counties. Indiana leads the nation in meth lab investigations the past two years. It’s not clear if Indiana has more meth or is better at exposing it, they said. Indiana is often looked at as a model from other states for exposing the drug and users. “Our state is really considered experts in what we do,” Sperle said.

Uhler gave a brief history about meth, having been developed in the late 1880s. It was later used in WWII when soldiers needed to be “up” and highly aggressive. After the war ended, the drug got into the urban areas from motorcycle gangs, and then made its way to the rural area because it was cheaper than cocaine. It was outlawed in the 1970s.

About meth
Uhler explained that meth is highly addictive, probably more so than cigarettes and heroin. Meth’s appeal is the feeling it generates; it releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. But it takes more and more meth to get that same feeling, noting cocaine may release 20 millimeters compared to meth’s 120 mm. “They will chase that high but your body can’t produce it…the only release of dopamine they can get is from more meth.“

It’s also very dangerous to make. “If it’s in a glass, and I shake it and it explodes, it could hit an artery. It’s basically a grenade,” Uhler said. That’s why police have a special team trained to handle the meth calls. He mentioned one user who drove himself to a hospital parking lot, knowing that if it exploded, he would be hurt. He was, and he did not survive. He knows of an officer who was exposed to the vapors once and years later still has lung issues as a result. “It costs $5,500 to decontaminate one room,” he said. Homes will be documented as a meth lab even if it has been decontaminated.

The ingredients to make meth are easy to get. “I’d venture to say 95 percent of people in this room have everything they need to make meth in their homes. It’s common,” Uhler said. It can all be obtained at a local grocery. He noted meth cooks are not chemists; they don’t know how it all works together. “The average meth cook teaches 10 people a year how to cook.” He showed a water bottle with a tube attached to the cap. “There’s no legal reason to have this,” Sperle said. It’s used to siphon meth.

Signs of use or production
Uhler told the audience, “You’re looking at people up high on days on end. I arrested one meth addict who told me he was up for five days straight. At meth houses, a lot of times we’ll find electronics taken apart, radios, lawnmowers...They need something to do with all this energy.”

Meth users crave sweets and caffeine. “They love Mountain Dew!” Uhler noted. As a result, they tend to get ‘meth mouth’ with rotting teeth from the sugary drinks and food, and lack of saliva. Another tell-tale sign of a meth user are sores on arms. “We call them meth mites. They’ll start itching and keep itching. I saw a picture of a guy who itched to the bone.” The two cautioned that if a person is wearing long sleeves in the summer heat, as they could be hiding track marks. Meth is snorted, smoked or injected. The snort tube could be a hollow ball point pen, or they might use a foil “boat” to light the meth and smoke it. If injected it is an instant high.

Meth smells like ether, or starting fluid, not cat urine. “That idea probably comes from that these houses don’t have the best hygiene. The animals are urinating and defecating all over the house. A guy up north had a baby that was crawling all over the animal feces. That’s the thing. The children are affected.” The officers don’t see a lot of meth overdoses, but note that more of those who use take heroin to come back down, which causes heart fluctuations. “I may not find heroin and meth at a marijuana user’s home, but I’ll guarantee you I’ll find marijuana at a meth lab or someone who is using meth. That’s something to be said of the gateway drug marijuana.”

As for the cost, the two figured it is about $150 to buy a gram of meth. The cost to make it will be about $50 but then can net $300 from selling it. A gram might last a week, or one day, depending on the user. The two said the drug impacts all economic levels, from those who make $300,000 a year to the poor. It’s classless, they said.

When asked how to stop the use, the two officers suggested good parenting. Know your kids, what they do, who their friends are, and be aware of the drug use signs. If you suspect drug use, contact the police. There are also resources online. “Some will take a long time to get caught. But they are playing with fire and eventually it will catch up with them.”

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Osgood won't file for disaster help (front page)
• County looks at digital ID voting system (front page)
• WN virus found in mosquito here (front page)
• Advice on avoiding heat illnesses (page 2)
• Regional Wrap-up: Roundabout being created on State Road 62 (page 3)
• Milan schools: Upcoming dates and events (page 4)
• On the Record from the Ripley County Courthouse (page 6)
• Photos from the Ripley County 4-H Fair (page 7)
• Area school district is finalist for Farmers Grow Rural Education grant (page 10)
• Want to buy the newspaper? Click here to find out where!

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