More meth labs in Poinsett County, statistics suggest

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

TRUMANN/HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – Law enforcement officials in Poinsett County told Region 8 News Monday they are concerned about the war on methamphetamine. This came after a request by Region 8 News to obtain statistics showing all meth-related arrests over the last three years. Numbers released by the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office show a 33% increase in meth-related offenses.

"It decimates the family and the person itself. It's the scourge of the Earth. Once they try it, if they like it, they're pretty much hooked from that point on," said Chris Holt, Chief Deputy of the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office.

According to the report, 61 people were arrested for possession of a controlled substance in 2008. In 2009, there were 99 people arrested on possession charges.

The report also showed an increase in meth labs. There were 27 people arrested on manufacturing charges in 2009. There were 22 people arrested in 2008.

"They're manufacturing more often due to the one-pot method than they used to," said Holt. "They can cook off one box at a time now, where they used to would have to wait until they got five or six boxes of pseudoephedrine pills, now they'll just cook off one box."

The city of Trumann also experienced an increase in meth lab seizures. Police busted 31 labs in 2009, 26 in 2008 and 10 in 2007. In each of the three years, one-pot meth making increased.

"I don't think it's just Trumann. I'm not going to label Trumann as a drug town, but we're not immune. I'll put it that way. I don't think it's any different than any other community," said Chief Tony Rusher with the Trumann Police Department. "We all know what it takes. We've all had the training. We know what the components are that you need before you get to a lab?"

Rusher said methamphetamine addiction is difficult to treat because of the drug's potency.

"A lot of them will go to rehab. Maybe it'll work maybe it won't, and some of them don't have the support that they need," said Rusher. "If you got a problem like that, you need a lot of family or friends to support you through the process because I'm sure it's a tough habit to break."

Rusher mentioned the fact that Poinsett County does not have a drug task force designed specially to tackle drug problems; however, he said officers county wide are trained to handle meth labs and their components.

"They know more of what to look for. They have a mindset to stop it more and they just really understand how this department and other departments have a zero tolerance on it and that's what's expected of them," said Rusher. "We have got to be proactive. We have got to get out here and stop them before they get the stuff to put the lab together and you can't do that just waiting on a call that something has blown up."

Rusher and Holt said the addition of Leads on Labs has helped them tremendously. Leads on Labs is a web-based program that tracks the purchase of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine containing products.

"We really started emphasizing this in 2009. I really hope the numbers in 2010 will show that we're on the right track. If not, we'll look at something else," said Rusher. "It's just hard when you got to do everything else and you don't have officers specially assigned to attack the drug problem."

"There are a lot of good people; really good people that I run into that just have a problem with it. If you are that addicted to it, you got to get the drug, you don't have the money, it leads you to make the dope yourself," said Rusher.

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