Nelson Twp. – On Thursday, April 10, 2014 the Portage County Drug Task Force (PCDTF) visited the Nelson Community House for an educational forum on drug abuse in the region. Trustee Joe Leonard opened the forum and thanked folks for coming. He also explained why they were hosting the PCDTF. Leonard said, many of the area residents had requested that the township do an educational forum on the rising drug issues in the region, which is why Leonard invited Larry Limbert from the PCDTF to speak on the issue.
Mr. Limbert explained what drugs were problematic in the area, from marijuana to heroin. He also explained the issues revolving around methamphetamine (meth). Meth is extremely flammable, it can leave serious burns, the gas produced while cooking meth is deadly, the disposal containers often found by the side of the road are dangerous. He explained the methods of cooking meth and the consequences from its use, not only to the person using and those around them. He also showed how meth use affects the entire community. According to Limbert, the statistics show that 95% of the areas crime is directly from drug abuse. Therefore, if you have been a victim of theft, robbery, burglary etc. you have been directly affected by meth.
Meth is not the only drug in the area on the rise. Heroin is making a big comeback, but the heroin of today is far more toxic than the heroin of the 1970’s. Today’s heroin has an 80- 90% THC level where the heroin from the ‘70’s had only 10% THC level. Many times Fentanyl is added to the heroin, which ends up being a deadly combination, is another reason we are seeing more deaths today, than in the past.
The PCDTF also sees a rise in prescription drug abuse. It starts with young folks stealing mom, dad or even grandma’s prescriptions. Before too long, they are addicted. Also, many folks are given heavy pain killers after a procedure and discover that all of the medication is not needed; it is worth more sold on the street, so it gets sold. Prescription abuse is on the rise due to many factors; not limited to over prescribing of narcotics, fake prescriptions, and theft. Some parents will say. “My kids would never steal from me or their grandparents.” Really? Are you sure? How about all the friends they have over? How well do you know their friends? Remember, we only know the person to the extent they allow themselves to be known. Therefore, for safety reasons, folks are advised to store their prescription medicines in a secure location to avoid being a victim of theft.
Besides investigating and making arrests, the PCDTF tries to educate the public on abuse and the dangers of drugs and to push for tougher sentences for those arrested. They are now responsible for cleaning up the meth labs they find, which is quite costly and labor-intensive.
Illegal disposal of drug-cooking utensils has also become a problem. Limbert explained that a lot of our roadsides are now the “dumping ground” for the cooking apparatuses used for making meth. Because the drug makes the abuser so paranoid, they are afraid to throw it away in their own trash, so they pitch it along the roads. Then good citizen “Jon” strolls the roadside picking up trash and picks up one of those disposed bottles; it explodes and he get severely burned or even killed. Those bottles will contain a cloudy liquid with particles in it that may have already started to form a solid. See one? Call the local law enforcement and do not handle it!
This is just a snippet of what the PCDTF does. For more information on drug related issues, one may contact local law enforcement. The PCDTF has a phone but it almost always goes to voicemail, due to their limited staff, so contacting the local law enforcement is the best way to reach them.
Those members involved in the task force are Garrettsville Village Police Department, Aurora Police Department, Kent Police Department, Ravenna Police Department, Streetsboro Police Department, Hiram Police Department, US Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security, The Internal Revenue Services, and the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office. These agencies all work together to try to make drugs less available on the streets.