Community meeting held to discuss meth epidemic

By Paige Quiggins | 

People gathered at the Perry County library tonight to learn more about the meth problem that some fear could get worse in eastern Kentucky.

According to Dan Smoot of Operation UNITE, Kentucky is number four in the nation for meth lab production, behind Missouri, Indiana and Tennessee.

Officials said the meth epidemic has spread across the state, and officials said despite few meth busts in Perry County, meth makers are still coming here.

“All these contents you see here you can buy locally in your community,” said Dan Smoot of Operation UNITE.

The key ingredient is pseudo-ephedrine, but other ingredients include camp fuel, acetone, ether, lithium batteries, drain cleaner, salt and others.

Officials from Operation UNITE came to Perry County to educate the public on how to spot meth makers.

“We get calls all of the time about abandoned meth labs thrown on the road sides, out in fields. and these labs once they become touched or kicked become active again,” said Smoot.

Law enforcement said that what they are most afraid of is people coming into contact with one of the types of bottles on the road after they have been discarded because they are still dangerous.

“We see it all the time, people pick it up and then they will throw it back down because they see sparks or smoke and that is re starting the chemical process,” said Smoot.

Although few active labs have been found in Perry County, it is still part of the meth epidemic.

“Because of the amounts of pharmacies in Perry County, this is a source county,” said Smoot.

“This is where other community members come to get their pseudoephedrine.”

Smoot said that Laurel County was number one in the state of Kentucky for meth labs, and surrounding counties such as Leslie and Knott have had a steady increase of meth labs.

Police said they just want the community to help them and hopefully prevent a problem from getting worse.

“People in neighborhoods, if they see this kind of activity is going on that they can recognize this sort of activity and maybe give us call. law enforcement can't do it all on its own,” said Chief Minor Allen of the Hazard Police Department.

Allen said they wanted to “become more proactive than reactive in this situation” because so many other counties are being affected.
“It is slowly creeping in to our area,” said Allen.

If you see someone buying large amounts of some of the toxic items shown in the video, officials said you should call police.