Walnut Ridge fights growing meth problem

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- "Meth is very addictive. Once it's got you it's got you. Guess you could say it's the very worst drug to get off," says Walnut Ridge Police Dept.'s David Burnside.

Detective Burnside says these may be just some of the reasons behind the multiplying problem of meth in their community.

In Walnut Ridge alone Fire Chief Alan Haskins says of the 10 or 12 fires they've responded to in the last eight months, only three turned out not to be meth-related. He says these shocking estimates don't include the meth labs they're called out to "mitigate" or "make safe" for the Walnut Ridge police investigators.

"That's probably another 10 or 15 on top of that," says Haskins.

Bringing the grand total of estimated Walnut Ridge meth labs in the last eight-months to 30 or 40. It's a drug problem that's keeping him and his men tied up instead of being available for other emergencies.

"It really makes us mad," says Haskins.

Haskins remembers what happened to a former police officer friend who came into contact with a shake and bake lab during a routine traffic stop.

"He has to carry around an inhaler at all times because of it and that was and that has been seven or eight years ago," says Haskins.

But he says the cost on everyone, from tax payers to children, is really what infuriates him.

"We got to searching the house for extensions and other things and found baby diapers and bottles in there and come to find out the lady that was there with this guy was actually keeping other people's kids. She was a babysitting for other people no telling what kind of damage to the kids...as far as health hazards intellectual hazards from the fumes," says Haskins.

Both Haskins and detective Burnside say meth has been a big problem in Walnut for 10 or 12 years, but the shake and bake method is making it 10 times worse in just the last year.

Neither is sure of how to get it under control. "Stiffer penalties or something like that need to come down it's just not I don't know because what we are doing is not working," says Haskins.

Some things to be aware of if you suspect your neighbors are cooking or making meth:

1) Do they have lots of empty plastic bottles in their trash with a white residue...bottles that look exposed to heat?

2) Are you finding Sudafed packages or empty camp fuel canisters around their home?

3) Also the smell of strange chemicals at random times of the day is a clue?

4) Something to always be aware of is a heavy traffic flow of people in and out of the home.

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