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Meth: Menacing Rural Areas

By Kerry Longobucco.
As heroin use rises in the suburbs, another deadly drug has returned with a force to rural communties: methamphetamine.

"Meth and heroin are hand in hand in this county," Senior investigator Wayne Moulton, with the Tioga County Sheriff's Office, said.

That makes it a two front battle for Tioga County law enforcement.

"Meth is just as bad as heroin," Moulton said. "There's been a little less overdosing with meth, but it's still a horrible thing."

A horrible thing, that's now easier to make than ever before. The 'one pot method, or 'shake and bake' calls for ousehold ingredients shaken in a soda bottle.

Right now, meth is made with household goods," Moulton said. "In any small town, you can get everything you need right in that small town."

Its key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, can be found in any neighborhood drug store:

Ten years ago, products that contain psuedophedrine were available right on the pharmacy shelf. Now, those medications are kept behind the counter -- but are still available with a photo I.D. and signature."

"They can only purchase up to 2500 milligram per day, and 7500 milligrams per month," Apalachin Pharmacy owner Jay Lalkiya said.

The owners of the Apalachin Pharmacy keep an eye on how often and how many customers are buying these types of drugs. They are also looking out for any suspicious activity:

“They come four of five people in a car, they won’t get it," Lalkiya said.

The names of customers who purchased psuedophedrine products are recorded in a log.

“We keep every record of it," Kinna Lalkiya, co-owner of Apalachin Pharmacy, said. "If someone is suspicious, we do not hesitate to call the cops."

Responding to those calls isn’t easy. The new one pot meth means cops must zero in on a moving target.

"It's very hard to get them. They're making smaller batches, throwing out the waste and they keep moving," Moulton said.

Moving through rural towns, that offer endless space and anonymity

"Being able to drive around the back roads while the meth is cooking, is something that also makes it a rural type of activity," Jill Alford-Hammitt, manager of Lourdes Substance Abuse Prevention Programs. said.

In counties like Tioga, meth is the cheaper alternative.

"Our heroin is nearly twice as much as Binghamton heroin. Binghamton heroin almost costs twice as much as New York City heroin," Moulton said. "Because the way the supply line goes, everybody's raising the price, so making meth is cheaper."

Tune into Fox 40 Wedneday at 10 p.m. for a closer look at the health and public safety consequences of methamphetamine.