One-step meth lab problem growing in Knott Co.

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

It is an epidemic that has destroyed many lives of people across the region and nearly everyone has said its effects hurt more than just the people who use it.

Law enforcement officials in Knott County said they had some unexpected and unwanted surprises from the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012.

“The past couple, or three months been encountering a lot of the one step meth labs,” said Dale Richardson, the Knott County Sheriff.

Richardson said he is not happy about what he has seen.

“We have been hearing a lot about it occurring in Laurel and Clay and even into Leslie county, which is not too far from us,” Richardson said.
“We kind of were fearful that it would eventually get to us, but I was very hopeful that it was going to be delayed, but it's been popping up quite a bit more.”

Richardson said that his sheriff's deputies received a call of a suspicious car in the Big Branch neighborhood which turned out to be an on-the-go one-step meth lab. There were three people parked near a mobile home that they did not live in. Deputies said it appeared they just brought a backpack full of ingredients and picked that particular spot to make the drugs. The mobile home was located only a few hundred feet from Big Branch Baptist Church which has a private school, Bethel Christian Academy, inside of it.

“When we got probably twenty feet from it and turned the lights on a thick cloud of smoke came rolling out of the car,’ said Michael Caudill, a Knott County Sheriff's Deputy.

Sheriff Richardson said that indicated they had shaken the bottle that contained the meth.
“The reaction from that causes smoke to be generated,” said Richardson.

Richardson said he continued to worry about his deputies out patrolling in conditions where smoke comes out of the car because it can lead to respiratory problems.

“That stuff is very volatile and it can blow up,” said Richardson. Richardson said lives are put in danger when people make meth, especially on-the-go.

“You can see bottles on the side of the road, that is what they will do most of the time, they will throw it in the ditch and it's out of their hands,” said Caudill.

Caudill said he has witnessed many of the bottles in creeks, the source of certain people’s well water.

“It worries me to think about that getting into the water,” said Caudill.

Richardson said the problem extended to more than water contamination when people ditch their unwanted meth remnants.

“Even the aftermath, say the cook is over and they decide to discard their bottles, a lot of these counties have PRIDE, the clean up and you have a lot of school groups, elderly people, people coming together to help make their community look better and pick their trash up,” said Richardson.
“We need to make people educated and aware on what they may be picking up.”

The most recent arrests involve seven people in Fisty. Michael Smith, 31, of Fisty, Tamara Mosley, 19, of Bulan, Ellis Ritchie, 37, of Fisty, Daniel Ramey, 33, of Fisty, James Mosley, 23, of Fisty, Elsie Collins, 22, of Fisty and Chrystal Ritchie, 28, of Fisty.
“It's troubling that you would have people that could be so inconsiderate of others,” said Richardson.
“Maybe they don’t realize what they are doing, I don’t know, that or they just don’t care.”

Richardson said he believed arresting people and continuing to follow up on tips would be a wake up call out to users and manufacturers of the drug.

“If we can get a few cases to court and get successful prosecution get these people a lot of time in jail maybe it will send a message to everyone that we are not willing to tolerate this here in our community,” said Richardson.

The sheriff said some of the people they have caught in the past have had children and he worried about the future for those kids. The children were not present where the labs were being made, but he said it affects them as well. He said they will continue to check out all tips they receive and crack down on this problem.

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