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New program targets Saultites buying stuff to make 'nasty' methamphetamine

Public, retailers encouraged to drop dime on people suspected of producing methamphetamine

City police are partnering with SSM & Area Drug Strategy and Crime Stoppers to stop the production of methamphetamine locally with the Meth Watch Program - an initiative where retailers and the public are encouraged to report people buying ingredients and materials in bulk that are commonly used to produce the illegal drug.

Representatives from participating community agencies were on hand at Sault Ste. Marie Police Service headquarters Thursday morning to officially launch the program.

“We’ve been working for a few years to get Meth Watch up and running, so we’re happy that it’s finally come to fruition,” said SSM & Area Drug Strategy co-chair Allison McFarlane. “We have agencies that have already partnered, so we are working to get more agencies on board with us, and get that whole community response to reduce those risks associated with meth production here.”

George Wright, a community consultant for the Meth program, says that given some of the materials used to make meth - such as drain cleaner, paint thinner and lithium batteries - use of the drug can be life altering experience for users.

“Meth is a nasty chemical,” Wright told reporters following the program launch. “What it does is it causes changes in the brain chemistry, and in some cases, the people who are using it for a period of time, the damage becomes permanent - they cannot return to normal behaviour.”

Wright told reporters that as far as privacy concerns go, sometimes it’s best to look out for the greater good of the community at large.

“Sometimes you have to look at the greater good, and in this case, if someone is producing [meth], that’s problematic,” he said. “If they’re not producing, they have nothing to fear in my view.”

It’s hoped the Meth Watch Program - which was modelled after a private-public partnership in the state of Kansas and adopted throughout the United States - will curb any production of meth locally.

Support services inspector Brent Duguay - who previously worked in the drug enforcement section and sat on the drug strategy committee - says that during his time in drug enforcement, charges have been laid in the past against people who have had potential meth lab materials in bulk.  

“More people calling in makes it harder for people to produce this in our community and ultimately end up on the street with it,” Duguay said.

People are encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers if they should notice the following items being purchased in large quantities, as listed on the Meth Watch Program website:

  • Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine or

  • Ephedrine

  • Acetone

  • Rubbing and isopropyl alcohol

  • Iodine

  • Starter fluid (ether)

  • Gas additives (methanol)

  • Drain cleaner (sulphuric acid)

  • Lithium batteries

  • Rock salt

  • Matchbooks (red phosphorus)

  • Lye

  • Paint thinner

  • Aluminum foil

  • Glassware

  • Coffee filters

  • Propane tanks

“We at Crime Stoppers just want to make the community a safer place, so we are involved in this strategy to educate the public and to accept tips that may result in an arrest or a successful conclusion,” said local Crime Stoppers coordinator Kendra Addison.

The public can submit a tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (705) 942-7867 or submitting a tip online.


James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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