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Meth use on the rise in eastern North Carolina

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

Meth use is on the rise in Jacksonville and the entire eastern region, police say.

Just this weekend, police say they busted three accused meth users in a 24-hour period in Jacksonville: Christopher Allen Tadlock, 40, of Connelly Spring; Brandy Marie Wells, 24, of Hubert; and John Anthony Scott, 51, of Jacksonville.

On Saturday, Jacksonville police evacuated the My Motel Inn & Suites on Commerce Drive after finding a meth lab. And on Sunday, police evacuated an apartment building at Huntington Place Apartments on Williamsburg Parkway after a meth lab there caught fire.

"Our biggest concern is the fact that we're dealing more with labs, where people are actually manufacturing it," said Lt. Ronnie Dorn of the Jacksonville Police Department.

Dorn says within the state, meth abuse used to be a problem mainly in the western part of North Carolina, but in recent years it has spread to the East.

"I think one of the biggest reasons is meth is a highly addictive drug, and so therefore, the amount of users is increasing," said Dorn.

He also says it's getting easier to make meth. Instead of creating a full blown lab, drug users are making smaller, simple labs.

"It is very dangerous. When you look at the chemicals in meth: draino, lye, lithium, that's something the normal person would not want to ingest into their body," said Dorn.

Dorn says Jacksonville police have already investigated 14 meth cases this year. That's up 5 or 6 from last year.

"A lot of times people may be around a meth cook and not realize it. So it's definitely a threat to everybody in the community," Dorn said.

He says officers need more training to combat the problem.

"At the end of this month, we will have three of our officers safety tech certified to evaluate a lab and start the appropriate process of lab cleanup," Dorn said.

There are many signs your neighbor's house could be a meth lab:

  • Residence or other building structure with boarded up or blacked out windows
  • Hoses or tubing running out of a residence or other building structure
  • Extension cords running to outbuildings from a residence or other building structure
  • Excessive trash (including items such as cold medicine packages, antifreeze and drain cleaner containers, coffee filters, batteries, duct tape, and glass beakers and containers) in or near a residence or other building structure
  • Chemical odors (like cat urine, fingernail polish, ether, solvents, vinegar, or ammonia) in or near a residence or other building structure
  • Extensive home or building security (e.g., cameras, monitors, fencing)
  • Visible areas in the yard where chemicals have been dumped or spilled (such as dead, dying, or discolored grass and vegetation and stained soil)
  • Increased or excessive activity in or around a residence or other building structure, especially at night  (e.g., excessive amount—or more than would be expected— of foot and vehicular traffic coming and going from the location)
  • Dark stains from chemicals in bathtubs, sinks, toilets, or on walls of a residence or other building structure

Dorn says the community needs to help by calling in suspected meth labs. The number for Crimestoppers is (910) 938-3273.

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