Police step up meth arrests

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Local law-enforcement officials have stepped up efforts to arrest producers and distributors of methamphetamine, issuing seven search warrants and making 12 arrests in the last 10 days.

However, there still is a feeling the arrests are just the tip of the iceberg.

“I do not expect this to let up,” said Capt. Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department, which has been working with other area agencies to combat the production and distribution of the highly addictive stimulant.

“We’re stepping up more of an effort,” Berry said. “We want to be more pro-active in enforcement. It’s just a combined thing with us and the sheriff’s department. The adult probation office has really stepped up to help us.”

Berry said the departments had a meeting on March 21 and decided to work to keep Portales and Roosevelt County from being a prime location to set up a meth lab.

“After the most recent homicide,” Berry said, “we thought it would be a time to do some heavy narcotic enforcement to get an edge on the methamphetamine use in Portales and more specifically the methamphetamine sales.”

Berry would not say whether or not officials believe the slayings of Odis and Doris Newman early in March were drug-related, but said the investigation turned up a lot of narcotic information.

Methamphetamine, officials say, is a problem drug in smaller communities. Part of that may be due to the ease of producing the drug. Many Internet sites give detailed instructions on producing methamphetamine and the ingredients used are common household items.

Two key ingredients in meth production are iodine and anhydrous ammonia, which are used by dairies and farms, respectively. Iodine is used as a disinfectant for a cow’s teats, while anhydrous ammonia is used as a fertilizer.

Though methamphetamine has been around for more than two decades, some in the dairy industry said they are just becoming aware of the chemicals involved.

“I don’t think it would be that easy to get (iodine) from the dairy,” said Portales’ Alva Carter, who is the chairman of the Southwest Dairy Farmers of America council. “In most of the dairies here in Roosevelt County, (iodine) would be in 55-gallon drums.”

Other common meth-making ingredients include aluminum foil, starter fluid, paint thinner, benzene, cold medicine and ephedrine.

The goal of law enforcement, Berry said, is to target small dealers in an effort to send a message to larger distributors to avoid setting up shop in Portales.

So far, none of the arrests made have provided connections to bigger meth producers. In fact, Berry said the seven search warrants are in no way connected to each other.

Two arrests were made within three blocks of each other near City Park according to arrest reports, but Berry said one of those arrests happened through a delivery sting.

“Methamphetamine doesn’t seem to be a drug that’s with one race or one gender,” said Berry, who said the ages of those arrested have ranged from 18 to mid-50s.