Methamphetamine labs are increasingly springing up in rural counties, including Oswego County. In a recent bust in Williamstown, two of the three arrested were just 20 years old.
Law enforcement officials say they’re alarmed by the apparent spread of methamphetamine in Oswego County. Oswego city police say they recently arrested four people with a car-trunk full of the hazardous ingredients used to make crystal meth.
That there was also a 7-year-old child riding in the vehicle left County Sheriff Reuel Todd shaking his head.
“I mean most people they try to hide their drug addiction and all that other stuff, but to have a little kid in the car when you know how dangerous that is, that’s a shame,” said Todd.
That incident, along with several other recent busts in the county brought Senator Charles Schumer to Oswego to spotlight how meth ruins lives.
“Meth is a terrible, terrible drug, crystal meth,” said Schumer. “It can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally. Meth is psychologically addictive, users can become paranoid & unpredictable it causes extreme fatigue in the long term, loss of appetite, psychotic behavior, brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s disease. So meth is a serious, serious problem,” he said.
Schumer says police agencies are doing a good job trying to stop meth at its source, but the labs can be small and mobile. And unlike imported drugs like heroin and cocaine the ingredients are common. They are also dangerous.
“When you try to make meth you can with one wrong move create a fire, an explosion putting innocent children or even neighbors close to you at risk,” he said.
Schumer says he led the passage of the law that made it harder to buy large amounts of a key ingredient— Sudafed. But he says the Oswego County busts show meth production is still rising in Central New York.
Sheriff Todd says meth rings often start small, cooking the drug for their own use.
“They start out just, little, you know, like someone who has a pot plant or two and then starts a garden and then a farm, these people gradually move up to get more and more—again, money drives every issue,” said Todd.
Schumer wants some federal money to help Oswego County fight meth and other illegal drugs. He plans to get the county designated as a high intensity drug trafficking area (HIDTA) region.
That will make it eligible for federal assistance to target illegal drug production, transportation, distribution or possession.
Schumer says the aid could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is also pushing for private help for New York State, from an initiative called the “meth project” which targets social and educational campaigns at young people.
“Meth, lots of kids try it and these dealers who want to make money try to convince kids by saying ‘Oh, this isn’t really bad, it’s made out of stuff you can get in your local drugstore’,” said Schumer. “And because is so addictive, once the kids try it once or twice, they may become addicts right away.”
Oswego Police Chief Tory DeCaire says they’ve dedicated substantial resources to combating illegal drugs, but they are limited. He says the city and county are eager for additional help.
“My comment would be great job to the officers they’ve been doing a fantastic job not only with this most recent incident but with their drug work in general< said DeCaire. “And then secondly would be, a warning to anyone involved in illegal drug activity whether it be selling them, buying them, using them, we don’t want you here. And eventually we will find you and we will catch you, so this is their warning.”