A rising problem, methamphetamine use in Morrison County

(Pictured is Morrison County Chief Deputy Tom Ploof who spoke to approximately 200 people at Oct. 2’s methamphetamine training session in the Government Center. A community forum also took place that same evening at the Little Falls Community High School. About 165 community members showed up for the forum. Ploof spoke about the rising use of meth in the county. Staff photo by Sarah Wocken)

Morrison County’s Chief Deputy Tom Ploof started out the session with statistics about the county. “In 1996 was the first meth lab we were aware of in the county,” he said. “Since then, we average finding one every two months in the county.”

The labs, which are fairly small, are called “Mom and Pop” meth labs. “We have a fairly high clientele,” Ploof said. “Most of the meth consumed here is not from our labs. Most of it comes from Super Labs.”

Since the smaller meth labs only have about half a dozen people associated with each one, only a few of the local people actually know how to “cook” the meth. However, once one person knows how, it became like a cookie recipe that’s passed on, said Ploof. “Ingredients” and cooking procedures are also easily available online.

In 1999, Ploof and other law enforcement personnel went around to various businesses giving owners a heads-up on what kinds of purchases, and amounts to watch for in shoppers. “If a retailer has someone buying five boxes of Sudafed, that’s probably a sign of meth use right there,” Ploof related. He hopes the awareness campaign will be able to go out to area businesses again.

With meth costing about $100 per gram, it turns into an expensive addiction. Ploof said the hardcore users go through about two to three grams per day. “Ninety-five percent of drugs the county deals with are methamphetamines,” he said. “I don’t think it has peaked yet, and I still don’t think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s like we’re keeping a nipping dog at bay.”

Ploof added that anhydrous ammonia is the most popular method of meth in Morrison County. Anhydrous ammonia is a high nitrogen fertilizer and household ammonia. “I think it’s going to take a big effort on both ends to knock off the users,” he said. “It’s really prevalent in the county and state-wide. If you’re not finding it in the area, it’s just because you’re not looking. They’re here.”

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