For the year, Drug Enforcement Administration cleanup crews were called to 105 active meth labs in Walker County. NET officer Chuck Tidwell said each lab cleanup costs taxpayers $10,000 for a total of $105,000. According to Tidwell, DEA officials said the number of labs in Walker County ranked second in Alabama, only behind Baldwin County.
“The numbers just keep getting bigger,” Tidwell said. “We are seeing more and more labs. We are getting to the point where we get one lab and five more pop up somewhere else. During a recent arrest, a suspect told us three more people were cooking meth less than a mile away.”
Tidwell said NET statistics show they had a total of 900 meth-related cases in 2010 with more than 3,000 charges filed, many of them being for trafficking. From those cases, more than 600 people were arrested.
“That’s not 600 different individuals,” Tidwell said. “That number includes multiple arrests for some people. We had some people that we’ve arrested for meth several times during the year.”
NET director Paul Kilgore said the number of meth labs are increasing to a extremely dangerous level.
“It’s to the point now where we know that it is mostly addicts who are making the stuff,” he said. “When you get to that point, it is dangerous. You never know what an addict will do.”
Tidwell said many of the addicts have threatened officers during arrests.
“We’ve had suspects tell us they were going to throw an active meth lab on us,” he said. “I don’t even want to think about what would happen if someone did that. These things are dangerous and they will blow up with any kind of disturbance.”
Kilgore said he feels like the meth problem statewide has reached a point where the Legislature needs to step in and help in the fight.
“We need to make it where some of the things they use to make it is only accessible by a prescription,” he said. “Several other states have done that as a way to make it harder to get the components meth makers use.”
Recent meth arrests include:
•Jeremy Kevin Larence, 33, and Brandy Lasha Jenkins, 22, both of Nauvoo were arrested and charged with second-degree unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance after officers found components to make meth during a traffic stop in Carbon Hill on Dec. 29.
•Johnny Lee Bray, 34, of Carbon Hill and Theresa Michelle Boshell, 30, of Curry were arrested and charged with trafficking meth, first-degree unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia when officers responded to an incident on Rubley Road in Carbon Hill.