(photo courtesy jacksoncountycombat.com)
Here we have a beautiful place to live, great schools, very good medical care, and a location we enjoy and simply want to raise our families and grow old in a safe community. Unfortunately we do have drug problems but are no different than many other areas of our state and country.
During my career in law enforcement we have seen methamphetamine be a "biker" type drug manufactured in weird hidden labs with a lot of chemicals and the drug occasionally finding its way to our area. That changed to the mom and pop type homemade meth lab in the bathroom, barn and then to the back seat of their car while driving the back roads. These people were stealing anhydrous ammonia from farmers and farm suppliers, they were often getting gassed by the anhydrous or had a problem during their theft and left the tank to bleed off causing huge problems. Then came the shake and bake where the labs were disappearing and people were using soda bottles, mixing their stuff, tossing it out somewhere and coming back a short while later to get their sweet methamphetamine.
So much of that has changed and in a lot of places gone away but METHAMPHETAMINE has not gone away, it is here and has only became much more popular. A very addictive and dangerous drug of choice for many. A drug that grabs ahold of most who use it and won't let go. Meth eats people away and you can see from many of our jail photos what it does to just the appearance and visible health of many. What you cannot see from those jail photos are the horrible side effects and personal destruction.
Now the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) are King of the Meth world. There are people here that travel multiple times weekly to places like Independence, Kansas City, St. Joseph, Columbia, and many other communities just to get restocked with their meth supply. They buy meth at the lowest prices seen in decades because the market is flooded with it! Meth is everywhere and meth users are often very loyal to their suppliers. Meth will cause people to do things they normally would not. Meth addicts will commit crimes, hide fugitives, and even sell their body, all to get a small amount of the drug.
With the Mexican DTO's we also see increases in violence in the United States. Not to the level of violence shown on the news that takes place daily in Mexico but we see increased violence and threats of violence. By working with other agencies including NITRO Federal Task Force I am still amazed at the complex networks that often involve even local people and what efforts they will go to in order to score the high quality methamphetamine that is ruling and ruining so many lives in our community.
It is so helpful that our office along with the Chillicothe Police, Missouri State Highway Patrol and NITRO Task Force work together in sharing information and enforcement activities that we have identified and completed many investigations together. Our K-9 Zaki continues to be an amazing tool in area enforcement. We have seen local meth dealers change habits, be more alert and use remote cameras, some use hidden areas in their vehicles, frequently changing cell phones, change their travel patterns, drug distribution locations and taking more aggressive steps toward and engaging law enforcement. We have had drastic increases in pursuits by those who will do anything to avoid apprehension, many have been more threatening and resistant or even combative towards law enforcement and we have seen many more being armed.
Look at cases area law enforcement has made and prosecutions in this area. We see everything from senior citizens trafficking meth and selling lots of meth to the young adult thinking he is cool and getting others to "party". Meth is in every walk of life and social class here and everywhere.
We have information one of our most disgusting meth dealers was cutting his meth with bath salts. In doing so we believe he basically fried the mind of at least a couple of people he was getting high and using. Those people's families will tell you their loved ones have lost their minds and have probably been forever damaged due to the drugs and whatever was in the drugs. Very difficult to prove in criminal court but the danger is very real.
We see drug dealers playing pharmacist and have heard of some mixing ecstasy or other drugs into the methamphetamine they sell. This also messes with people and many have tested positive for both meth and ecstasy during drug screenings.
There is great difficulty in overcoming addiction. Law enforcement alone cannot stop anyone from being an addict. Counseling and treatment alone is frequently not enough to help an addict stop their lifestyle unless that person WANTS to change. It takes a strong combination of Counseling, Treatment, Family and Friends, Law Enforcement, tough love and personal strength for hardcore addicts to even begin to see they have a problem and should change their lifestyle. This alone is only a part of the battle. Each day is a new challenge for the addict. Seeing an old buddy, place, or any number of things can trigger the addict into doing it one more time.
We encourage those in our custody or community to get help or to take the necessary steps to help your family member and friends get that important help. Unfortunately a few just want to blame law enforcement and have law enforcement do it all; which is not being realistic about the situation. Our office is not going away. We will continue to investigate drug crimes in our county and share information with other agencies to help them combat area drug issues.
Don't get me wrong, we do have a great community! However, we are no different than any other city or county in Missouri and most other states in that we have a % of the population with serious addiction issues and there are those who will do anything to make the easy money on other people's misery and have no concern how many lives are ruined! In my opinion, those who care less about other's lives and their families are the criminals who need warehoused in prison for lengthy sentences.
In closing, we have a great K-9 program and have a very well trained staff to work these problems at every opportunity we have. Unfortunately this city and county like many others could use a team strictly dedicated to drug enforcement 24/7. Chillicothe Police Chief Jon Maples and I have had several in-depth conversations about enforcements, investigations and how we can work more effectively on these and other crimes. Trust me, you will be seeing more of us. We appreciate your TIPS and you may never know how valuable much of that information has been.