SEARCY, Arkansas- A sheriff investigating clandestine methamphetamine labs had made an unusual archaeological discovery: suspected makers and users of the drug often have extensive collections of arrowheads, some thousands of years old.
What exactly is the link between meth, as the addictive stimulant is commonly known, and hunting out artifacts left behind by Native Americans?
"You get kind of wired on that stuff and you need to have something to do," said Tony Young, who was in the White County jail Monday on methamphetamine-related charges.
The time consuming and methodical motion of searching for arrowheads on farmland and in river beds seems to appeal to methamphetamine addicts, White County Sheriff Pat Garrett said.
He should know. After serving more than 100 search warrants for suspected meth labs, Garrett said he has just come to expect to find arrowheads as often as he does drugs.
"I noticed it when I first started. It just seemed there were always Indian arrowheads and I couldn't figure it out," Garrett said.
Young, 36, sold his arrowhead collection to a local dealer for $1,250 (euro1,020) _ enough to pay for a defense attorney. He said "head hunting" filled his need for activity when he was on meth.
"You just get to walking and looking at the ground," Young said. "You get to looking and an arrowhead catches your eye."
Many nights Young found himself in fields full of fellow arrowhead hunters.
"The strangest things you find out there is other dopeheads," he said, who added that drug dealers and users often trade the arrowheads among themselves.
Ostensibly a harmless hobby, the arrowhead searchers may be threatening the integrity of archaeological sites, said Arkansas State archaeologist Ann Early.
"It is very troubling for a variety of reasons that the culture of meth use has embraced the idea of collecting relics," Early said.
While surface hunting for arrowheads is legal, trespassing and digging through archaeological sites is illegal, Early said.