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Federal Officials Develop Plan to Fight Meth

JOPLIN, Mo. - Federal officials have developed a four-pronged drug plan that they say will serve as a "road map to battle the scourge of meth."

John P. Walters, director of Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Karen Tandy, administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration, outlined the plan Monday outside a Joplin house that authorities said has been the site of several drug raids.

The plan was drafted by Walters' office. It centers on prevention, treatment, regulation, and work by law enforcement and prosecutors, Walters said.

He said the plan will be bolstered by legislation introduced by Sen. Jim Talent and co-sponsored by Rep. Roy Blunt.

Talent's "Combat Meth Act" would expand training of police investigating meth offenders. It also would train local prosecutors to seek tougher penalties for meth cooks and traffickers by shifting their cases to federal courts. And it would provide grant money for programs supporting children affected by meth.

"Southwest Missouri is a case study of what happens if the drug of choice is local," Blunt said. "I've heard too many stories about meth cooks wearing gas masks while little children are right there, running around in the house."

Tighter border controls after Sept. 11, 2001, reduced drug imports and boosted abuse of methamphetamine and pharmaceutical drugs, officials said.

Walters said it was important for citizens to get involved, to urge those with a drug problem to get help and to report suspicious activity.

"People are going to need encouragement, whether that comes from a friend or neighbor, a social worker or the faith community," he said. "And recovering addicts are going to need support, and people willing to give them a second chance and a job."

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