This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Before This Thing Explodes, We're Trying To Get A Handle On It,' Says Deputy Police Chief

Owen Sound is bracing for what police fear is an inevitable increase of crystal meth use in the city.

Police have made only a few meth arrests to date, but senior officers and Owen Sound fire and emergency officials heard last week that the illegal drug, easily cooked up in dangerous home laboratories, has rapidly become Stratford's worst drug problem.

Crystal meth and related crime shoplifting, robbery, home invasions and violence among drug dealers has hit Stratford hard in the past few years. So hard that that city's police have become provincial experts dealing with the drug. Some of those experts were in Owen Sound last Friday to help the city prepare.

"Before this thing explodes, we're trying to get a handle on it," said Owen Sound Deputy Police Chief Frank Elsner.

Stratford's meth troubles began about four years ago when a Mitchell man working in Texas was deported back to Perth County for drug activities. He brought back a recipe for making crystal methamphetamine, also known as speed or crank, Sgt. Mike Bellai, who heads up Stratford's drug enforcement unit, said in a telephone interview.

The relatively inexpensive, highly-addictive street drug caught on and has become the city's illegal drug of choice, attracting users as young as 13, said Bellai.

"It's become somewhat of an epidemic," he said. "It's all walks of life. It could be anybody. It could be the prom queen, it could be business owners that have lost their business because of using it, virtually anybody."

Related crime includes frauds to get money for the drug, shoplifting, theft and robbery. Basement meth labs have caused serious fires and officers have had to deal with violence and murder.

"We had an attempted murder earlier this year that was a direct result of the accused being on methamphetamine. A murder that occurred a few months after that was between drug dealers . . . Home invasions, robberies, it's just never-ending and it's all because of the crystal methamphetamine problem," Bellai said.

Arrests for both possession and dealing the drug have "gone through the roof . . . Not to say that we don't have all the other drugs that all the other cities have as well, but methamphetamine seems to be the most popular right now."

Bellai, who spoke to local emergency officials last Friday, said he planned to detail the Stratford experience for them.

Looking back, he said, Stratford officers probably could not have done things differently to curb meth's rising popularity anyway.

"We're trying to get ahead of it, but there's only so much you can do. Are you ever going to eradicate it? No. Are you going to suppress it? Absolutely."

He said he would be warning Owen Sound emergency workers about the hazards around the home labs criminals use to cook up crystal meth using fertilizer, decongestant cold tablets and other ingredients.

"They are extremely, extremely dangerous. It's basically a ticking bomb."

A fire which started in a basement lab in Stratford recently could have killed a pregnant woman and two young children, he said. The man who had been making the drug "ran out of the house and forgot completely about his family because he was a user as well. The neighbours got them out of there."

Crystal meth has become such a widespread problem that the regulatory group that oversees prescription and non-prescription drugs in Canada has stepped in to try and make an essential component more difficult to obtain.

The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities last week ordered corner stores and grocers across the country to stop selling a wide range of cold and allergy medications that contain ephedrine and pseudoephidrine, essential ingredients for cooking up crystal meth.

The NAPRA ban takes effect April 10 and does not include pharmacies, although some of the strongest cold and allergy medicines will be moved behind the counter and will not be available without first consulting a pharmacist.

Elsner said the move was "way overdue" and came only after a lengthy police lobby effort.

Bellai said in Stratford, most pharmacists are aware of the crystal meth problem and have already at least moved those products to where they can be easily watched.

Shoplifters have been hired by illegal drug makers to steal the components and moving the raw materials behind the counter may just lead to more after-hours break-ins, he added.

Still, "if you put it behind the counter and the pharmacist has to give it out, that's going to help," he said. "If you have to ID before you get it, that would help. If they can regulate, that's great. It makes it more difficult, but unfortunately criminals are going to find a way around it."

Manitoba and Saskatchewan have already restricted availability of some products, as have 37 states in the United States.

Elsner said those restrictions have made a difference there and he welcomes anything that will keep crystal meth at bay in this city.

"We haven't seen a lot of it, so it hasn't got a really good foothold here," he said. "Our issue is that we're afraid that it will. We're trying to be proactive and do what we can to stop it."

Const. John Kummer, spokesman for the South Bruce OPP detachment, said crystal meth use is on the increase in the Walkerton area and throughout Bruce County, Huron County and Perth counties. Project Roller, a police operation last June, rounded up almost 40 crystal meth dealers in three counties and led to more than 200 drug charges.

"If it's not in Owen Sound yet it's coming, that's for sure. It's around, there's a lot of it going on," Kummer said.

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom

CN ON: City Braces For Crystal Meth Invasion

Newshawk: Herb
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jan 2006
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Copyright: 2006, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Bill Henry
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


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