By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
ANTHONY TWP. — Montour County has a severe methamphetamine problem and heroin is making a big comeback, Montour County Sheriff Ray Gerringer told about 30 people Thursday.
“We’ll never stop the problem — we’re just trying to control it,” Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren said during a meth lab awareness program sponsored by the Happy Homemakers of Exchange in the Anthony Township Community Building.
“This year, we have taken out two active meth labs — one in Danville and one in Derry Township in addition to having done meth clean-ups,” Gerringer said.
Warren said the meth lab found in Danville was next to a school, a playground and a daycare center.
The clean-ups involved items discharged from cooking meth which can be left in hotels or motels, cars, wooded areas and farmers’ fields, he said. “Those bottles can explode and are just as dangerous as a lab,” he said.
“We have had a lot of clean-ups in Valley and Derry townships,” Gerringer said. Other clean-ups have occurred in Anthony and Limestone townships.
Heroin is making a comeback because of the cost. Two years ago, a small baggie cost $15. Now it sells for $8, said Gerringer who heads the Northumberland-Montour Drug Task Force. Warren is a task force member.
Meth sells for $10 to $15 a gram, the sheriff said.
“Meth is the most addictive drug created so far,” said Warren. “It gives an intense high that last several minutes followed by a euphoric high that lasts six to 12 hours,” she said. “Using it over and over changes the brain chemistry. The brain doesn’t regenerate with meth.”
She showed pictures of a woman, in her 40s, and how she changed after using meth. Her face resembled someone in their 60s or 70s. Meth users often have open sores on their faces, she said. Someone with “meth mouth” has no teeth or black and decayed teeth, she said.
The key ingredient in making meth is pseudophedrine, which people have to sign for now at pharmacies, she said.
Meth ingredients are highly toxic and highly flammable — “there have been a lot of explosions,” Warren said. Most ingredients for making meth can be found under people’s kitchen sinks.
In one instance, a farmer’s field was set on fire. “We think the people were making meth in the car with the floor mats catching on fire so they took them out and set the field on fire,” she said.
People who cook meth are often burned. Most lack medical insurance, resulting in a cost to the community, Warren said.
“Children in houses where meth is being cooked are exposed to toxic chemicals. Taxpayers are paying for their foster care while their parents are in jail,” she said.
“We have to be vigilant and know what we’re looking for,” she said of discarded items such as portable propane tanks, bottles with attached tubes, stained coffee filters, empty packs of cold tablets, jars with a white or red liquid in the bottom or evidence of chemical waste dumping.
Anyone coming across anything suspected to be related to meth should call the drug task force at 570-271-3062 or Gerringer’s cell phone at 570-274-7247.
“It’s the only way we’re going to get information. You don’t have to give your name,” the sheriff said.
Those at risk of finding these items include hikers, runners, litter crews, road workers, farmers and kids playing in the woods.
“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” Warren said, encouraging people to call about what they are seeing 24 hours a day. “Don’t think calling is an inconvenience,” she said.
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