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Dec. 2, 2011

Officials Push for Federal Funds to Fight Crystal Meth

Senator Schumer Wants Special Focus on Oswego County -

Agencies Seek Federal Funds to Fight Spread of Meth - Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd (at podium) and Sen. Charles Schumer spoke to reporters at a recent news conference about the dangers of methamphetamine or "crystal meth." Sen. Schumer is asking for federal funding to help law enforcement agencies stop the manufacture and use of meth in Oswego County.

OSWEGO - Following several methamphetamine-related arrests in recent weeks, Oswego County law enforcement officials have joined with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer in a push to bring federal funds to fight the spread of meth labs in the area. At a recent news conference with members of law enforcement and local officials, Sen. Schumer said he will ask the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to designate Oswego County as a "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area."

The members of local law enforcement are "doing a fantastic job fighting meth in the region and they are giving it all they've got," said Sen. Schumer. Federal designation as a high intensity drug trafficking area would make Oswego County eligible for specific drug trafficking prevention programs and funding to fight back against crystal meth production and consumption.

"If we can save one life, prevent one person from falling over the cliff, it will be worth it," said Sen. Schumer.

Although Onondaga County is already designated as a high intensity drug trafficking area, Sen. Schumer said "it is clear that Central New York as a whole needs more federal and private assistance to combat its meth problem."

Since October, Oswego County Sheriff's Deputies have discovered meth labs in the towns of Williamstown and Mexico, and Oswego City Police discovered a mobile lab in the trunk of a car in the city of Oswego. Officials are concerned that the arrests may be the tip of the iceberg, and signify a dangerous trend in the area.

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd said that meth labs can be more difficult to detect in rural areas because there are fewer people around to notice the distinctive odor that is produced in the manufacture of crystal meth.

Sheriff Todd thanked Senator Schumer for his support of county law enforcement and his efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of meth.

"We certainly appreciate the Senator's influence in helping Oswego County get the resources we need to go after those who are manufacturing and selling crystal meth," he said. "It has devastating effects on the user, their family, and our community. We need to stop its spread before it goes any further."

Sen. Schumer also announced that he has asked The Meth Project, a private national group which partners with individual states, to work with New York State in public awareness campaigns and programs that educate citizens about the dangers of meth use. People don't realize "how quickly you can become addicted and what a deep grip" crystal meth can have, he said.

County Administrator Phil Church noted that county government has been pro-active in drug enforcement activities and has re-established the Oswego County Drug Task Force.

"In September the Oswego County Legislature passed a resolution urging the state and federal governments to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of dangerous unregulated natural and synthetic drugs such as salvia divinorum and fake marijuana," said Church. "The chemicals contained in these products are similar to stimulant drugs such as heroin and LSD."

Church said bath salts are now illegal. They are used primarily by those in their early 20s and come in a variety of labels such as "Ocean Burst," "Ivory Snow," "White Horse," and "Charlie Sheene." They are not the same products that are commonly sold for bathing from bath and beauty retailers. Signs and symptoms of abuse are similar to those caused by cocaine and amphetamines, and can include increased heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, violent behavior and vomiting. Use of the chemicals has resulted in hospitalizations and death.

For more information about the dangers of bath salts and related drugs, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547.

To report suspected drug activity, call the Oswego County Drug Tip Hotline at 315-349-8220 or 1-888-724-8477. All calls are confidential.

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