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Meth growing problem in county

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

Four suspects were arrested Nov. 20 on charges connected with methamphetamine in Wabash County as meth use seems to be increasing locally.

Det. Matt Shrider of the Wabash City Drug Task Force says the arrests will make an impact, but the number of methamphetamine related cases in Wabash County have been steadily growing over the past two years, though the number of methamphetamine labs in the area has decreased.

Shrider says the crystal meth mainly comes from Mexico while the homemade “bottle dope” is a more old school approach.

“Historically, methamphetamine around here was made here. (It was) bottle dope and one-pot meth labs,” Shrider said. “All the crystal meth is cartel dope. It’s being worked through the pipelines in the United States to get here in Wabash.”

Last month Wabash County Sheriff’s Department filed charges against George Martin, 61; Alex Martin, 20; Bayley McDaniel, 19; and a 17-year-old juvenile are facing a variety of charges.

George Martin was charged with maintaining a common nuisance, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. Alex Martin was charged with maintaining a common nuisance, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. McDaniel has been charged with maintaining a common nuisance, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine and possession of and dealing in a Schedule I, II or III controlled substance. The juvenile has been charged with visiting a common nuisance, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 28, there were a total of 12 individuals in the Wabash County Jail with charges revolving around methamphetamine or another narcotic. This number is out of 89 inmates for the month.

Despite the increase of methamphetamine in the county, Shrider added the amount of heroin usage is seeing little, if any, negative impacts.

“There’s just an abundance of crystal methamphetamine available to anybody that wants it right now,” he said. “It’s definitely flooding the market. It’s such an easy substance to get a hold of, and the high lasts a very long time.

Methamphetamine acts as the polar opposite of heroin, acting as a stimulant where as heroin is a depressant. Because of this, Shrider said he is not seeing heroin addicts switching to methamphetamine despite the amount available and the cheaper cost.

The Wabash City Drug Task Force is taking steps to reduce the amount of methamphetamine in the area, and in order to do so has teamed up and coordinated with neighboring counties, even as far as Noble County, as a large amount of the methamphetamine comes from the South Bend area. The Task Force tends to perform longer term investigations to remove dealers and distributors from the area, but Shrider said they are often quickly replaced.

The key to reducing the number of methamphetamine cases in the area, Shrider said, is coordination between all of the area law enforcement.

“We try to gather intelligence and try to divvy that out to patrol officers and get them in hot areas,” Shrider said. “They do the same with us. They tell us what they’re seeing and where we need to focus more. We work well together as far as the Task Force and the other agencies.”

While not taking part in the warrant for the Laketon residence, Shrider said getting anybody who is dealing methamphetamine off the street and away from the community is a benefit.

“Having those four taken out of the picture is just one of the pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “It’s just one more step in getting our community cleaned up the best we can.”

The November drug bust involved local law enforcement including the Wabash City Drug Task Force, Wabash County Sheriff’s Department and the North Manchester Police Department.