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Fighting the devastation of methamphetamine

January 29, 2010

It's in our community - and it's become our problem.

Meth is the number one problem drug in Marshall County, and although we may not see its affects daily, they are a constant.

Now, thanks to the efforts of local leaders, including Marshall County Sheriff Ted Kamatchus and Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller, we will have another tool to fight this devastating drug.

The county attorney's office will soon take advantage of a 15-month program that provides funding to hire a new prosecutor with the sole purpose of fighting meth cases.

The "hot spot" meth grant, valued at $111,000, is entirely funded through the federal government, and the county may be able to renew the grant.

The prosecutor hired will focus only on methamphetamine cases, meaning the county will have another outlet to charge the people responsible for making, using and distributing meth here, with the goal of reducing the availability of meth in the area.

The majority of meth seized by the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force has always been trafficked in, not locally produced. Meth comes from sources in other states, but originates in Mexico or southwest United States.

In 2008-2009 the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force alone seized nearly five pounds of methamphetamine in its four county area. Meth seizure statistics appear to show a downward trend, but are in fact misleading. The task force's resources and manpower were significantly cut in recent years.

This new resource is a huge opportunity to fight this drug that does so much harm to our communities in Central Iowa.

While just 10 percent of meth is locally produced, meth labs are a tremendous health threat. One statistic reports that for each pound of meth produced, five to six pounds of hazardous waste are generated. Meanwhile, cleaning up these sites requires specially trained hazardous materials response - a costly cleanup.

It also poses a great threat to our youth. Children are put at risk when they are subject to the toxic environment created by a meth user or cook. In addition to the health hazards, they often suffer neglect. Many will develop behavioral disorders. Many will end up in foster care. Many will be at risk to develop a drug problem themselves.

Additionally, the affects of this drug can often spur the rise of crime. Making and dealing meth can lead to burglaries, thefts and assaults - taking a stronger toll on local law enforcement, which already struggles with funding and resources.

Marshall County now has another valuable approach to discouraging meth use.

We applaud our county leaders and stand behind them in this effort.



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