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Meth labs proliferate in Portage County thanks to enhanced techniques

By Dave O'Brien | staff writer Published: July 28, 2013 4:00 AM
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Portage County law enforcement is finding illegal, clandestine methamphetamine labs in larger numbers this year, and are blaming the increase on meth "cooks" using new, simplified techniques in their manufacturing.

Police in Portage County have found the components of meth labs in everything from backpacks, car trunks, bathrooms, basements, attics, garages and sheds. While the labs used to be confined to rural areas because of their size and the need for cooks to keep their illegal activity away from prying eyes and sensitive noses, some police officials say more and more the labs are being found in residential and urban settings.

Portage County Sheriff David Doak said agents of the Portage County Drug Task Force do a "tremendous job" of shutting down such labs. However, the illegal labs have proliferated in recent years because new manufacturing techniques make it possible to cook the drug in a two-liter soda pop bottle, variously known as the "one-pot" or "shake-and-bake" method.

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation statistics show that between October 2011 and October 2012, 600 meth labs were found and dismantled in Ohio. Between October 2012 and May 2013, 575 labs were busted.

By the last week in June, Portage County drug task force agents had discovered and dismantled 65 meth labs. In all of 2012, they found 80 and seized 182 grams of the finished drug.

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"We're darn near up to that now," Doak said.

In all of 2011, the drug task force found only 15 meth labs, and seized less than a gram of the finished product, according to Doak and his 2012 annual report.

The cooks are getting more brazen. A meth lab bust by the drug task force on Cherry Lane on the western shore of Lake Brady in Franklin Township on Jan. 5 was repeated only three weeks later on Jan. 29 when the same crew of cooks were found in another house on West Shore Drive, a four-minute walk from the first location. Several defendants were sentenced to prison in those cases.

Kent recently saw a raid by the drug task force on property in the 900 block of West Main Street, during which three people were arrested. Kent police Lt. Jim Prusha said the trend in meth labs found in the city seems to be "similar for the past five or six years."

"We've had those types, the little mobile ones in cars, too," he said.

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The process requires perfectly legal chemicals -- acetone, lye, red phosphorus, denatured alcohol, lithium and anhydrous ammonia -- as well as fuel that can be purchased anywhere you can find camping supplies. Glass or plastic containers, plastic tubing and coffee filters also are frequently involved. The exact process is easily learned from other meth cooks and can be found online.

Ohio pharmacies, which sell cold medicine containing the pseudoephedrine the meth cooks need to make the drug, are now part of a national database tracking the sale of ingredients related to meth manufacturing. Law enforcement uses the information to track patterns and monitor organized gang activity.

Meth cooks send accomplices to purchase ingredients at different pharmacies, an activity known as "smurfing," to avoid arousing suspicion or appearing on state databases.

"Ten people may buy one box each and then take it to the cook," Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver recently wrote on his department's Facebook page. He called the meth epidemic a "blight" on society.

Brimfield police have, in the past, frequently found meth cooks doing their business in the township's hotels, located at the intersection of Interstate 76 and S.R. 43. Some have come from out of state, such as in the case of an Alabama man arrested at one of the hotels in March 2012, or simply across the border from Summit County.

The increased criminal activity related to drugs -- burglaries, thefts, robberies and financial crimes --has put a strain on law enforcement in Portage County, Doak said.

"We're out of jail space. It's just a vicious cycle," he said. "Collectively, law enforcement is focused on doing stuff with the drugs, because a lot of the rest of the crime is related to that. We've tried to make more of an effort on the enforcement end with the drug stuff."

Much of the activity on the enforcement end comes down to staffing and budgetary constraints, Doak said. The ranks of the drug task force recently were bolstered by the addition of officers from Ravenna and Hiram, he noted.

"If I had another 12 to 14 agents and about $1 million to spend through the end of the year, we might be able to knock a heck of a dent in it," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

Facebook: Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

Twitter: @RCCrimeWatch

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ARayOfSunshine Jul 31, 2013 12:45 PM

Well said Concerned.  That has been exactly my point from the first time I've watched Redleg spout off about the program.  

LOL Redleg so in other words you have no data or real experience to back up your statement?  Just assuming. 

concernedcitizen1 Jul 30, 2013 7:13 PM

No person is ever guaranteed of going to NEOCAP when they are arrested. Guess what you get arrested for a felony, and convicted you just might go to prison. period.  Do you really think that someone using even takes the time to think about the consequences while they are using. Highly unlikely. Individuals must be interviewed, and accepted into NEOCAP.

As i understand it, NEOCAP actually is cheaper to fund than sending an individual to prison. Almost half the cost.  The majority of the people who end up there are based on the recommendations of the system.  Just because a person goes to NEOCAP, prison, or gets probation means nothing. The person has to want to change period. 

I am no advocate for NEOCAP by any means, but currently, that is what is available for the most part within the judicial system anyway.

Unfortunately Portage county is somewhat behind when it comes to dealing with individuals with substance abuse problems. Dre has it right when he spoke of a drug court as a viable solution. This was discussed and an article written on the subject in the record courier almost twelve years ago.(December 23, 2001 to be exact.) Today, no drug court in portage county. Now that drug addiction is becoming a focus here in Portage county, things are slowly changing for the better. This will take time. The answer isn't just to lock people up and throw away the key. Someday these people will get out of prison. Then what. If they have no social skills, no effort at changing, and no future prospects, what then.. Back to a life of crime and using I suppose. Not every person who goes through NEOCAP, prison, or a drug court will stay clean, sober whatever word you want to use. But for those that do, the chances of them ending back in the system are limited to none provided they don't pick up again.  








redleg6 Jul 30, 2013 12:30 AM

@SoWhat...Compared to prison, NEOCRAP is akin to a Health Resort and Spa..If you send murders, buggerers, thugs and thieves to prison, where do you think the biggest cocentration of folks with that type of behavior would be? Prison! If you send meth cooks to "NEOCRAP", where do you think the biggest concentration of meth cooks would be? NEOCRAP!!

Why do the tax payers have to pay for more programs, buildings, and shrinks?

These citizens can get in touch with their feelings, learn to feel good about themselves and Work their Program in prison. Maybe if they knew there was prison time, maybe they wouldn't be so quick doing/cooking meth.. Its called TOUGH LOVE! not a time out in the Red, White or Blue house.

From NEOCRAP website:


Upon entering the facility the resident is assigned to the Red House, Blue House, or White House. All female residents are assigned to the Red House. The male residents are assigned to either the Blue or White house. Each house has a team of program staff which consists of, case managers, treatment specialists, and a program specialist. This team coordinates and corroborates their efforts to deliver all case management, group, and individual treatment services to the residents assigned to their house.

The house’s case managers assist the residents in developing a program plan with goals and objectives to address their identified criminogenic needs. The resident immediately starts to address the goals and objectives in his/her program plan. Goals that cannot be obtained within the four (4) to six (6) months of residency will become a part of the resident's aftercare plan / termination summary, which is forwarded to the probation department. The probation officers enforce, monitor, and supervise compliance with release plans....

I wonder if they have an "OUT HOUSE"?

The following, is taken from the list of 45 Communist/Socialist goals contained in the book, "The Naked Communist" written in 1958: by, W. Cleon Skousen former FBI agent.

Goal #38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

NEOCRAP seems to be fulfilling Goal #38.


ARayOfSunshine Jul 29, 2013 1:01 PM

Redleg I again ask you, what do you base your information on?  You know personally that the biggest concentration of Meth Cooks are in NEOCAP?  I'm not sure what Health Spas you go to, but I didn't find NEOCAP any where near a health spa.  I base my information on personal visits, where the program did save two family members lives.  Look I don't agree with a lot of things, but you consistently put your ignorance out there with your NEOCRAP statements.  Do I like the fact that Judges have a vested interest in this place?  No  Do I like the fact that some of the counselors there look like they are still in college and reading strictly from a script? No  Did I like it when a family member contracted MRSA in there and couldn't get medical treatment because their Nurse was a moron and his/her counselor had no experience?  No.  What I did like was that they taught him/her that their actions have consequences and this is PC's last ditch effort to educate them before Prison.  In one of the members it was after a lshort term prison sentenance.  I did like that they were able to wear their own clothes (to a degree) and it didn't cost the family a ton of $$ to keep them in underware.  Nobody beating their @ss for their socks.  I did like the fact there was no TV, and they were able to read books, and not be in physical contact with each other. They had strict rules, and they were to abide by them or be stuck longer or go to prison, it was their choice.  Did I like being searched when I arrove?  NO.  Did I hear of a few getting out and going back into the stuff and in a couple of cases OD?  Yes,  But that is the addicts fault not NEOCAP's.   There was lots and lots of things that I don't even need to go into on here.  How you get that the program is Health REsort and Spa, is totally beyong me?  I cannot even fathom going to a place like that.

anonymous Jul 28, 2013 7:08 PM

Meth labs proliferate in Portage County because our Judges do not give them any time for their crime. Instead they reward them with a free trip to Warren and probation.

redleg6 Jul 28, 2013 12:13 PM

From article above;

"The exact process is easily learned from other "Meth Cooks" and can be found online".

The biggest concentration of "Meth Cooks" is at the NEO"CRAP" Health Resort and Spa in Warren.

The police bust them, and the Judges at the "Portage County Discount House of Justice" send them to NEO"CRAP" Health Resort and Spa in Warren, where the "Meth Cooks"  learn how to hone their cooking skills, and swap recipes with the other vacationers.


sezwho Jul 28, 2013 10:40 AM

If you go in the wood only looking to gather nuts, then that's waht you will find.

The cops are only looking for meth chemicals while ignoring the REAL problem

That being the untouched heroin dealers that are causing havoc everywhere.

dre Jul 28, 2013 10:14 AM

A million more is a bit dramtic, that's all. Much could be changed without more money.

dre Jul 28, 2013 10:02 AM

The people of Portage County need to be aware of few things before they buy this line of ********.

1. Taskforce and the sheriffs dept have known about the meth circus here since early 2003 at the least.

2. I attended a meth symposium in Summit County in late 2005. Had Portage been in attendance and paid attention they would have known exactly what was coming, the entire life cycle of this drug, associated longterm effects on a community and how to effectively target the particular demographic for this drug. Portage county did not take this drug seriously until it was far too late, plain and simple.

3. Sentencing and treatment models which have been proven to aid meth addicts (incarceration based treatment and yes, geographic relocation) are not be initiated. Warren is a joke, it is a scam. I won't wven entertain this option or discussion, facts are facts. Summit county has a wonderful and effective drug court program...the likes of which must be considered to save this community and these addicts.

4. Drug and Alcohol in ths county is as closed and opportunistic as the police departments, courts and elected offices. Meth addiction is a long term illness amd recovery programs of 18-24 months minimum have the greatest effectiveness. Not IOP and aftercare with the same groups of cooks and their runners thrown in with iv herione users and alcoholics for 12 weeks at a time. This does not work, has not worked and is not currently working. The agencies here saw money, state and local money our tax money and rather than acquire faciltators and apply models that work....took the quick buck, no help option. Taking advantage of addiction.

Merh is here, watch a document...netflix, google. The addicts and cooks are not the victims by any means and the associated crimes are particularly ugly and disturbing. They should be held accountable. But the powers that be should be responsible for educating themselves because they are in control of how these people and this communities story ends.