The Associated Press
Climax, Mich. (AP) -- Police working to stop the spread of highly
addictive methamphetamine are staking out sites around the state that
sell anhydrous ammonia -- a fertilizer that's a key ingredient in
making the drug.
As farmers prepare their cornfields for spring planting, police are
watching places that sell fertilizer, hoping to catch meth lab
builders who steal the chemical. And series of new laws to take
effect in April, meanwhile, aims to keep manufacture and use of the
drug from spreading.
Jim Leach, a farmer and fire chief in the 791-person village of
Climax, recalled a day in November 2002 when he was cleaning on his
1,100-acre farm and saw state police pull up to the farming co-op
across the street.
Leach knew what had happened: Thieves once again had broken in to
steal anhydrous ammonia from the co-op's 1,000-gallon tank.
"I've handled anhydrous for 20 years. You wear goggles and gloves and
if you make a mistake you get hurt," Leach, 52, told The Detroit News
for a Sunday story.
Recent thefts of the common fertilizer has the Michigan Agribusiness
Association warning local farmers about the sparked interest among
drug manufacturers, the Cheboygan Daily Tribune reported.
Meth is a powdery white or brown drug that can be smoked, snorted,
injected or eaten. The drug, also known as crank, ice or crystal,
creates a longer high than cocaine or heroin, lasting up to 18 hours.
A June 2003 report by the state's Office of Drug Control Policy
showed 660 people were treated statewide for methamphetamine or
amphetamine use in 2002. In 1999, 311 people were reportedly treated
About 5 percent to 10 percent of the state's population have used
methamphetamines or similar drugs at least once, according to state
The number of Michigan methamphetamine labs discovered has risen from
two in 1998 to 186 in 2003 -- a handful of which were in Oakland,
Wayne and Livingston counties. There have been 14 meth lab busts this
year in Michigan.
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"Just five years ago, Michigan didn't have a methamphetamine
problem," Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Tony Saucedo said.
"Because the drug can be manufactured with a laundry list of
household chemicals and supplies, with the exception of anhydrous
ammonia, users see it as an easy high and big bang for the buck."