Local News

State Attorney General Wants Stricter Penalties For Meth Makers

Posted January 12, 2004 10:35 a.m. EST

— You do not have to use meth to have it hurt you. The drug is more than a high; it is also a potential bomb that can blow a building sky-high. Officials plan to ask lawmakers for more money to tackle the problem.

Meth makers combine dangerous chemicals in their kitchens that are often next to neighbors. Melissa Fulbright lives just down the street from a home federal and local investigators raided in Cumberland County last April.

"An explosion that close to my house is really scary," she said.

Meth is not just a rural problem anymore. Investigators busted suspected labs in Raleigh and a lab in a Cary motel, and officials said the problem is only going to get worse.

"We're working on being ready. We're not ready yet," state Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "We're going to go to the North Carolina General Assembly and we're going to ask for help."

Cooper said he will ask lawmakers for more equipment, more training and more money to battle the fastest growing drug problem in the state. In 1999, investigators busted 6 meth labs. Last year, they took down 177. So far this year, detectives have already raided four labs.

"It's a priority because we know the number of labs is going to increase, maybe exponentially. We have to be ready," Cooper said.

Officials said the dangers of meth will hit close to home, whether it is a potential explosion or pollution.

"For every pound of meth, six pounds of toxic waste are produced," Cooper said.

Under current state law, meth dealers can go to prison, but meth makers usually get probation. Cooper said he will ask lawmakers for tougher penalties for running a meth lab.