Meth problem significant in Warren County

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2002

[09/26/02]In just four years, making and using “meth” has become a significant problem in Warren County, District Attorney Gil Martin said Wednesday.

Martin, who has prosecuted felony cases in Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties since 1991, spoke to the Vicksburg Lions Club.

There was one methamphetamine case in 1998, he said, and now cases involving the manufactured drug represent about a third of all drug cases presented to the Warren County grand juries.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Martin’s observations match those of Sheriff Martin Pace who has also said meth problems are increasing. He also said the growth in the county and Mississippi mirrors the nation.

In Mississippi, meth lab seizures have grown from 114 in 1999 to 201 in 2001 and 178 in the first six months of this year. At the July session of the grand jury, Martin’s office had four meth cases, two involving marijuana and 10 dealing with cocaine.

Mississippi is also fifth nationally in meth lab seizures with 201 in 2001. This compares to 2,133 in Missouri, 1,847 in California, 461 in Tennessee and 330 in Arkansas.

Although known since its discovery in Germany in the late 19th Century and used by both the German and American military in World War II, possession of methamphetamine was not made illegal in the United States until 1970. The possession of two or more of the chemicals used for making the illegal drug was not made a felony in Mississippi until 2000.

“We had some local cases in the mid-1990s, mostly truck drivers coming through,” Martin said, reiterating the first truly local case did not happen until 1998.

Generally, the people who use it smoke or snort the powdered form or inject dissolved powder.

“The user can stay awake from 12 to 24 hours on just one dose,” he said, but added the users generally use it for the feeling of euphoria the drug can produce.

The main problem comes, Martin said, when the user begins to come down from the high.

“They can be irritable, they can experience paranoia and they can be violent,” he said.

Meth is a drug generally of white males from the low to middle economic level, who normally do blue-collar work and live in rural areas, Martin said. They also are in their 20s, married and with children.

He said one of the major problems with meth is that it is so easy to make, requiring only a handful of chemicals that can be bought at or stolen from local hardware stores, drug stores and discount stores. And the people who make it don’t sell it, except to a close circle of fellow users, so most of the cases that have been made in Warren County involve possession of precursor chemicals or manufacture.

“The Sheriff’s Department had done an excellent job in cracking down,” Martin said, noting that all the manufacturing cases have come from the county and only one precursor case has come from inside Vicksburg.

A person convicted of possession of two or more precursor chemicals with intent to manufacture meth can receive up to 30 years in prison, Martin said.