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Meth use on rise in Richmond County

Sunday, April 20, 2014 7:51 PM
Last updated 11:32 PM
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Methamphetamine use is on the rise in Richmond County, but the variety of meth police is seeing is changing.

“Finding people in possession of methamphetamine has continued to rise and has yet to plateau,” said Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Vinson. “Over the years I’ve noticed that it’s become more and more of a popular drug in Augusta.”

Production of meth, a highly addictive drug made from household cold medicine, batteries, drain cleaner, brake fluid and other harmful chemicals, increased in recent years when the shake-and-bake or one-pot methods became popular. That form of cooking allowed users to make their own drugs with nothing more than the chemical ingredients and a bottle to mix them in.

Columbia County sheriff’s Staff Sgt. Michael Williamson said he’s seen meth made in homes, motels, cars and in the woods.

In recent years, the lesser quality homemade brand was more popular in Richmond County, but now investigators are seeing the purer, high-quality version of crystal meth, or ice, that comes from Mexico.

“It’s becoming more common that we receive large amounts of ice,” Vinson said. “In the past it would be a rarity to see an ounce of ice. We’re making cases by the pound now.”

In October, 14 local residents were charged with conspiracy to traffic meth from Mexico to Richmond, Columbia and McDuffie counties. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine up to $10 million.

According to the Georgia Meth Project, meth in the United States is at the highest level of availability and purity and the lowest cost since 2005, primarily as a result of trafficking from the Mexican cartels, which are the No. 1 source for all meth sold in the country.
“A lot of our cocaine and marijuana dealers are seeing the amount of money they can make on it so they’re stepping into that world, too,” Vison said.

Even if prices are at the lowest in almost 10 years, the purer, imported version can still be more profitable than other drugs.

In Richmond County, methamphetamine is quickly becoming the most common drug found. Columbia and Aiken counties aren’t seeing as much of an increase and said numbers have remained steady. Marijuana and prescription pills are still the most common drugs found in Columbia County.

Williamson said restrictions on ephedrine and pseudoephedrine purchases have helped curb the number of meth labs they have seen. In Georgia, buyers are required to show identification, are restricted to the number of products and are logged in a system when buying the products frequently used for methamphetamine production.

Although it is more difficult, labs are still showing up across the state.

In February 2012, the Geor­gia Bureau of In­ves­tigation received a grant to help fund lab cleanup. According to a January GBI report, the grant has spent nearly $950,000 on lab cleanup since it started. In January alone, the agency spent $56,000.

A team of Richmond County narcotics investigators has been formed to focus solely on methamphetamine labs. Recently there have been a cluster of labs found, including one in a bust at a home on Heckle Street on April 12. Vinson said investigators found people in the process of cooking the drug and discovered finished product and a large amount of cash.

The user demographics are also changing. In the beginning of its rise, methamphetamine was commonly known as “the white man’s drug,” but now police are seeing it cross into all racial and economic areas.

“We’ve seen young teenagers and middle-schoolers on up to their 60s using it,” Vinson said. “There are no parameters – no age, economic or racial lines any more.”

Although it’s still more commonly found in lower income brackets, Columbia County police say they are seeing more high-income users.

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Dixieman
14979
Points
Dixieman 04/18/14 - 10:32 pm
7
3
Well, this is just not fair...

...as someone will soon point out and demand more meth use in Columbia County.

dichotomy
33029
Points
dichotomy 04/18/14 - 10:59 pm
16
2
So basically we have

So basically we have inconvenienced the everyday schmuck with a runny nose who can't buy cold medicine without a hassle and we have driven the meth heads into importing more and purer meth from the Mexican cartels......oh bye the way......the redneck meth labs are still getting plenty of ingredients to manufacture the cheap stuff. But if I am feeling like crap and my nose is slobbering snot I still have to stand in line and read somebody my pedigree to buy a cold medicine. Oh yeh, that worked out great. So the bottom line is that we did not stop anything.....we did not slow anything down......but we managed to make it more difficult for the average law abiding citizen to buy a perfectly legal product. More laws created by the same people who bring you gun control.

itsanotherday1
43303
Points
itsanotherday1 04/18/14 - 11:23 pm
8
2
Interesting that it

Interesting that it contradicts my assumption the other day that it is "white man's" drug.

It is a sad commentary though on our social environment that so many people will knowingly use such highly addictive and destructive drugs for "escape." Alcohol is used for similar reasons, but the crime, addiction, and other ill effects are not quite as severe.

corgimom
32609
Points
corgimom 04/19/14 - 07:05 am
12
2
Anybody that would put that

Anybody that would put that poison in their body, has rocks in their head.

It takes years for alcohol to affect your body, it takes just months for meth to break down your body.

seenitB4
87380
Points
seenitB4 04/19/14 - 07:13 am
10
4
Yep dichotomy is right

Hubby needed some medicine...had to show ID--give blood--promise the 1st born....really stops the seniors from getting meds...

Another law should seal the deal...yaknow, like gun control..sigh

seenitB4
87380
Points
seenitB4 04/19/14 - 07:15 am
10
3
PERFECT dichotomy

Oh yeh, that worked out great. So the bottom line is that we did not stop anything.....we did not slow anything down......but we managed to make it more difficult for the average law abiding citizen to buy a perfectly legal product. More laws created by the same people who bring you gun control.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 04/19/14 - 08:19 am
4
8
SRS and Plant Vogtle

SRS and Plant Vogtle make every meth lab on the planet look like an Easy Bake Oven convention.

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 04/19/14 - 11:09 am
4
7
Dixieman.. I think the

Dixieman.. I think the majority of people would just prefer to hear balance and fair reporting.. This article portrays that meth is more prevalent in Richmond County and the surrounding areas don't have the same problem with the drug.. The truth is marijuana and pills are still the most popular drugs in Richmond County..

Why didn't the article mention the top drugs in Richmond County similar to Columbia instead of saying meth is rising on the list?

What's the timeline used to calculate the most popular drugs? The article explains how pills and marijuana are the most popular in CC, but the article from April 2013 had meth listed at number 2..

The use of meth should be on the rise in Richmond County and holding steady in CC/AC since those counties already had the higher percentage..

The list for Richmond County included marijuana, pills, and cocaine in third place..

CobaltGeorge
159252
Points
CobaltGeorge 04/19/14 - 11:08 am
3
3
Lacking Supporting Figures.

"The Chronicle article from last year put meth as the second most popular drug in Columbia County behind marijuana.."

Right countyman, 3 CC Citizens used marijuana and 1 was found using meth.

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 04/19/14 - 11:17 am
4
7
Media

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2013-04-21/illegal-drug-u...

Colbat. I don't blame you for thinking the way you do, because the media reports love to praise Columbia County. The public gave the same initial reaction when the media finally admitted that CC schools have more overall drug cases compared to Richmond.

Some people might actually believe that only 4 people have been arrested for drugs in CC..

Gage Creed
17256
Points
Gage Creed 04/19/14 - 11:37 am
5
1
Perhaps the next census

Perhaps the next census estimate should incorporate what are the recreational drugs of choice... that way we can get a true picture of recreational drug use by demograhic, county, neighborhood, etc. (sarcasm off)

Bizkit
31507
Points
Bizkit 04/19/14 - 11:35 am
6
1
Well if meth is up in

Well if meth is up in Richmond county couldn't you presume that cocaine and more expensive stimulants are up in Columbia county. LOL. You just have a higher class criminal-likely wears a suit and a brief case with a big bag of coke. Sad my humor likely has some truth to it.

Bizkit
31507
Points
Bizkit 04/19/14 - 11:40 am
6
1
True county. With wealth and

True county. With wealth and a parents good intention to make it "better" for their kids they unintentionally create a spoiled brat with too much money and too much free time to get in trouble. Further if their kid gets in trouble you can bet they will hire an expensive lawyer to aid in a favorable judgment-rather than accountability. The ole saying the road to hell is paved with good intentions is really true. LOL.

Dixieman
14979
Points
Dixieman 04/19/14 - 02:20 pm
5
3
If you really believe that...

..sell your house in Columbia Country, move to Richmond C, and send your kids to public school there.

jmo
16022
Points
jmo 04/19/14 - 06:46 pm
4
1
One problem is....

not only are the kids using the drugs, the parents are also. The drug problem is far larger than all law enforcement can stop.

Pops
8558
Points
Pops 04/19/14 - 07:32 pm
6
1
The stories in the Chronicle

seem to be in proportion...for every warm, fuzzy article about Sheriff Roundtree and how the department is progressing comes an article about people stepping into traffic and meth labs.

oldredneckman96
5095
Points
oldredneckman96 04/19/14 - 09:00 pm
0
0
Drug dealers.
Unpublished

The rise of destructive drug behavior is on the rise as the economy sinks, this is standard criminal behavior. Pot, meth, heroin and any other drugs you can sell for a profit are used by dealers to scam money from addicts. Put dealers in jail for life, end the cycle of addiction.

corgimom
32609
Points
corgimom 04/20/14 - 07:52 am
5
7
No, Countyman, the majority

No, Countyman, the majority of people think the reporting is just fine, it's only YOU that has a problem with it.

The rest of us understand that a paper titled "Augusta Chronicle" is going to concentrate its reporting on Augusta and Richmond County.

If we want to know what's going on in other counties, we read the Aiken Standard, the North Augusta Star, the CC Times, and the True Citizen.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/20/14 - 03:49 pm
3
2
Bullet point
Unpublished

I wonder if this will make nortonguy's bullet point list?

* Augusta: fastest growing meth capital in the Southeast.
--We are on the rise!

corgimom
32609
Points
corgimom 04/20/14 - 08:45 pm
2
4
Hahaha, Butterman, you make

Hahaha, Butterman, you make me laugh!

corgimom
32609
Points
corgimom 04/21/14 - 09:43 am
0
2
Perhaps the reason why CC

Perhaps the reason why CC schools have more drug cases is that the CC schools are more active in prosecution.

Because anybody that thinks that kids in RC schools don't have very serious drug problems are deluding themselves.

When my son was at North Augusta High, they would conduct drug searches, with the drug dogs, and the principal would proudly announce that no drugs were found. This happened several times. And everybody knew that was total BS.

CobaltGeorge
159252
Points
CobaltGeorge 04/21/14 - 03:57 pm
0
1
I'm Wondering

how long it will be before RC Meth usage reaches the level of CC Usage?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 04/21/14 - 04:29 pm
1
0
I'll never get it!

Wouldn't you just have to be insane to put this stuff in your body?
I do everything possible to maintain my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and appearance. What are they thinking?

AutumnLeaves
7783
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/21/14 - 05:09 pm
1
0
Willow, they're not thinking.

Willow, they're not thinking.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 04/21/14 - 07:48 pm
0
0
Perfect answer AutumnLeaves!

Perfect answer AutumnLeaves!

corgimom
32609
Points
corgimom 04/21/14 - 07:52 pm
0
0
Willow, all they care about

Willow, all they care about is getting high. That's their idea of "fun".

They all start out thinking they can handle it, that they just use it "once in a while", and the next thing they know, they are hooked.

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