Methamphetamine: The Drug of Choice

Methamphetamine is speed, similar in texture to cocaine. It comes in powder form and can be snorted, injected or smoked. Narcotics investigators say it has been found all along the coast, but more so right now in Jackson County.

Agents say methamphetamine is easy to get and easy to make. They say dealers make the drug usually in home labs.

"It doesn't take very much equipment, and it doesn't take very many chemicals," says Sam Owens of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. "Where it used to take meth amphetamine anywhere from two to three days to make the old traditional way that it was made, now in several hours you can start and be finished with your product."

Owens says you can buy meth either by the gram for about $120.00 or by the ounce for up to $1,500. Methamphetamine is not a new drug, it's been around since the 1960's.

"It's coming back. It's made a little bit different than it was in the past, it's easier to make, faster to make and that may explain why we're seeing an increase in it now," Owens says.

Still, he says, Harrison County agents aren't seeing nearly the amount of the drug as agents in Hancock, Stone, George and Jackson Counties. In fact, state narcotics officers in Jackson County say since January first, they've arrested 17 people and busted six methamphetamine labs.

The agents say their job is a lot easier thanks to a new law called a precursor law. It allows officers to arrest people who have the ingredients needed to make the drug.

"There again, you've got to prove they're going to use that for manufacturing meth amphetamines.  Therefore you just can't go and arrest anybody for going and buying Draino and a can of starter fluid. It has to be in large quantities and have some more intelligence to go with it," narcotics officer Bruce Lynd says.

Lynd says they find meth labs everywhere, and they're often called traveling labs.

"They're constantly moving their labs. A lot of times we'll get traffic stops on vehicles when they're moving their labs from one place to another."

An emergency room doctor at Gulfport Memorial Hospital says the body reacts to meth in very much the same way it does to another popular drug, ecstasy.  It increases your blood pressure and your pulse, causes extreme thirst, gives you lots of energy, makes you paranoid and you can go for days without sleep.

Officers say the people arrested in Jackson County have not yet gone to trial on the drug charges.