Drug dealers, users find new methods

By DANZA JOHNSON
Daily Journal
TUPELO – Police are reporting drug arrests and activity are remaining steady, but the methods people are using to get drugs are changing.
This time last year, the area was being flooded with the purer form of meth, ICE, according to North Mississippi Narcotics Agent Lt. Paul Howell. But now, meth users and dealers have gone to a primitive form of cooking the drug known as shake and bake. The shake and bake method allows a person to put all the ingredients used to make meth in a jug and simply shake them to mix. Howell said this method is far less sophisticated than the way meth was previously cooked, which makes it easier and more common.
“In the past, people used to have to set up actual meth labs and go through a process of many steps to cook meth,” Howell said. “It took more know-how so you didn’t have everyone doing it. Now with the quick way, anyone can cook meth anywhere and that’s what’s making it popular.”
Howell said even though meth, crack, marijuana and prescription drugs still have the main demand in the area, heroin has now joined the party. Even though they don’t see much of it, Howell said there is a small group of people in the area dealing with the Chicago-imported drug.
Prescription drugs, too
Like meth, prescription drugs are in demand, but people are finding it in new ways. A year ago, Howell said people were traveling to Louisiana where pharmacists and doctors operated under softer drug laws to get drugs by getting prescriptions filled. Now that the laws in that state have been stiffened, users and dealers of prescription drugs have turned to the streets.
“We see a lot of people going to Memphis and other cities and buying prescription drugs off the street in bulk,” said Howell. “We didn’t used to see that. We still have people with legitimate prescriptions who go get them filled once a month and then sell them, or the people stealing them from family members. But buying them off the streets in bulk is really growing.”
Howell said he doesn’t know of a case where people have bought it off the streets of Tupelo.
With the change in the way people are obtaining drugs, there has been a change in the way agents are fighting drugs. There are no longer stationary meth labs to be taken down, so Howell said agents now have to get to the dealers before the cooking stage begins. He said now they rely heavily on informants and other sources.
“We are now using a lot of informants to tell us when people are going from place to place gathering the ingredients to cook meth,” he said. “We try to get to the suspect before the cooking begins because they can now do it from a car or anywhere and that makes it hard to catch them in the act.”
Howell said marijuana and crack cocaine arrests are holding steady.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson