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Meth “Plague” Hits Washington County
01/15/10 - 08:07 PM
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Marc McAfee - bio
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click for larger image Chipley, Fla:

Tuesday’s news that another meth-related house fire broke out in Washington County wasn’t big news to the Sheriff there.  Bobby Haddock is seeing more and more of the so-called “meth fires” in his area.  It’s part of the larger problem behind meth production in Washington County.

“We get calls every day about Meth problems,” Haddock said.  “People on meth, people making meth, people using meth. Every day we receive calls.”

The drug is spreading to many rural parts of the country, and northern Florida is no different.  Meth has a scary combination of being equal parts addictive, cheap, and lethal. Meth fires are being caused by a new highly explosive style of meth production, which the Sheriff referred to as “shake and bake.”

It’s the worst spread of a drug he’s seen since the wave of crack cocaine that gripped the country in the late 1980’s.

“It’s a plague,” Haddock said.  “A plague.  And when you’re in a small county it’s hard to have the resources to fight this, or the manpower.”

Haddock is fighting the drug’s grip on his community, but he said it’s hard to fight something that spreads so quickly. 

“Almost every family in this county has been touched in some way by the meth problem,” Haddock said.  “My family-I’ve had to put people in my family in jail for meth.”

Local residents say he must be doing a good job, because they’re seeing the improvements.  One woman said she’d lived in the middle of two houses that produced meth, and both had since been shut down.

Bill DiZinno manages the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store in downtown Chipley, and says he has no plans to move from Washington County. 

“Chipley is a great place to live,” DiZinno said. “It’s a nice, close-knit community.  The drugs don’t really affect us.”

He said it stays that way through the efforts of local law enforcement.

  “The police in general and the sheriff in particular are doing great work, keeping [the drug problem] under control,” DiZinno said.

Haddock pauses when asked if he’ll be able to end the community’s fight against the powerful drug. 

“Hopefully,” Haddock said.  “The message to get to the people is, ‘Don’t try it.’ Don’t be coaxed in and talked into trying Meth. It will kill you.”

Words from a man who has seen it happen again and again.

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