Narc Ops
Greg Ferency  More Info

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Chasing Speed V of VII

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Part V of VII

The devices used to put meth in the body are if nothing else – simple. The paraphernalia used in ingestion is a clue to the propensity of the addiction. When snorting the drug any small tube will work. We all remember from the Hollywood movies an actor rolling up a dollar bill and snorting cocaine off the bar in the den. What seems to be the most popular “snort tube” is the average straw cut in half or in thirds. They also like to take in inner “guts” out of writing pens and use the outer casing to snort up the drug. Noting overly dramatic or exotic about this stuff, but they are effective just the same. The small compact mirrors are also used to snort the drug. The smooth surface allows for the entire amount of drug to be taken into the nasal cavity. A rough surface collects and holds onto the dope and at one hundred dollars per gram they want nothing left behind. When it comes to the smoking of meth stage the items are only slightly more complicated. Meth vaporizes at a fairly low temperature, at least when compared to other substances. The vapor is in the form of smoke, which can easily be taken into the lungs with minimal effort. The most common way of smoking meth is by placing it on a piece of foil, heating up the bottom of the foil with a standard lighter and using a snort tube device like I just mentioned to inhale the fumes. The foil is usually cut in approximately six by two inch pieces. It is then creased down the middle where the drug itself is placed. We call these foil sections “boats.” Obviously, because the give the appearance of a very crude boat or canoe. You will notice burn marks on the underside of these boats and a tan to brown residue on the topside. A hardcore meth smoker will have these lying around in various places and folded up in their pockets, purses and wallets. When they are finished with the boat and move on to a new one they just roll it up in a ball tosses it aside.

Some smokers prefer a glass pipe. These are glass tubes, which are heated up and a round ball is formed at one end of the tube. A small hole is the chipped or melted at the top of the ball and that is it. You now have a custom-made meth smoking pipe. The meth is dropped through the hole in the ball. A heat source (simple lighter) is then applied to the bottom of the ball. The meth is heated, vaporizes and is inhaled. There are actually people living in meth infested communities that make these pipes for a living. They sell them to those in the meth culture and can make a nice little profit. Prices can range from five to twenty dollars apiece. We often execute search warrants on meth dealers and one thing that is always consistent is how well they maintain their meth pipes. The house will be disarray, the kids may be dirty but the meth pipe is always meticulously secured and protected, often wrapped in a clean towel and placed in a container that will protect and keep it safe and secure. Meth smokers will often use a common household item to get the drug into their bodies. We have dozens of them all over our residences, the always-reliable light bulb. They will take the light bulb and unscrew or somehow detach the metal screw in section of the bulb from the glass section. They then take out the guts of the bulb leaving only the glass part at their disposal. They then tap or melt a small hole on the top of the glass, just like the pipe. The rest you already know about. The meth is placed in the bulb a heat source is applied it is simply inhaled and the rest is up to the meth to do its job.

Injecting methamphetamine is the most complete and effective way that users are getting the drug into their bodies. Known as hypes on the street users who inject meth are at an addiction level that is pursued by none. Insulin needles are the preferred tool of the users but most any type of syringe will work. The process is simple and to someone who wants or needs the drug that bad – painless. First they will place a small amount of water into a spoon. They then place the meth into the water. A heating source is then applied to the bottom of the spoon. A regular lighter will work fine, but a torch lighter is preferred. The meth melts into the water. A small piece of cotton is then placed into the meth / water solution. Things like Q-Tips, cotton balls and sectioned out cigarette butts are commonly used as the filter system. The meth / water solution is then drawn up through the cotton. This filtering system serves the purpose of taking out any solids left in the meth / water mixture. Meth melts at a fairly low temperature and the most of the cutting agents remain as solids as the meth melts. By filtering the meth going into the bloodstream they are leaving behind the cutting agents that don’t affect the high. Hence they are getting a much purer dose of meth into their bodies.

One night I was buying meth from a guy. We were inside his house and doing the deal in his kitchen. I see him unwrap a cloth towel and take out his hype kit (the things I just explained in the prior paragraph). I watch him pour a small amount of water from the facet into the spoon, put some dope in the water heat it up, put his cotton swab in the mixture, draw the dope into the syringe. I don’t have the meth he is selling me yet so I am basically stuck there. I watch as he is trying to get the needle of the syringe into a vein. He is shaking and he has so much scar tissue over his arm veins he cannot get a smooth “pop” of his target vein. He starts jamming the needle in his attempt to get his dope into him. He hit something (a vein I assume) to hard and blood starts shooting in my direction. I wasn’t that great at “Dodge Ball” in high school but you should have seen me that night – ducking and weaving. The problem was I couldn’t seem too disturbed by this episode, as someone that I was attempting to portray would not have. Finally he threw me my dope and I tossed him my cash as he headed to the bathroom to tend to his now injury. As I was walking to my car I did a quick “blood check” on my skin and clothes, luckily I had improved at Dodge Ball.

Syringes are not just a tool to get meth into the body. They also make nice weapons. Addicts have been known to draw their own blood into a syringe and then rob people a “needle point” threatening to stab and inject them with the blood. They will sometimes claim to have AIDS, hepatitis or some other disease. If they do in fact have one of these diseases even a near miss resulting in a scratch can be potentially deadly.

Other paraphernalia related items involved in the meth culture could or I should say should set off red flags if discovered. Small electronic scales are used to weigh meth during the sale of the drug. This stuff is sold on the street in fairly small amounts and eyeballing the weight is usually not an option. The scales are reasonably accurate easy to tote around.

            Meth is sold and transported in what we call corner cut plastic bags. This is just what is sounds like. The corners are cut out of common sandwich bags and the meth is dropped in. the two corners are usually tied with trash bag twist ties that are sectioned out into smaller pieces. This allows the user to open and close the bags at will in case the drug is not ingested all at once. The corner cuts are appropriate for about a quarter of an ounce. Any larger amount of the drug being sold is placed in the entire plastic bag. Corner cut plastic bags make for good evidence collection even though some of the more unoriginal dealers will claim they are for collecting stamps. I am still waiting for someone to claim making the worlds smallest sandwiches.

            Meth users and dealers are fairly anal about their dope. They tend to keep it close at all times. They will often carry small bags or pouches to transport their dope and paraphernalia with them. This is usually in the form of a black leather pouch and it rarely leaves their sides. They may forget where their kids are but the meth pouch is always close by and never lost. A seasoned police officer will spot them a mile away. Here is an important note. Do not open one of the pouches and go rifling through them without looking carefully to the contents inside. There is a definite possibility that you may get bitten (stuck) by a syringe and every moment that you spent trying to be a happy healthy human being just went down the tubes. As over 90% of our meth dealers are users these pouches have the potential to be carrying a large amount of dope.

About the Author

Greg Ferency has been a police officer for the Terre Haute Police Department (Indiana).  His assignments have included a county-wide Drug Task Force. He has extensive experience in drug related crimes as both an investigator and undercover officer. Greg Ferency has specialized training and experience in methamphetamine related investigations.


He has certifications from the DEA Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team in the area of Basic, Site Safety and Tactical Operations. Greg has been at the scene of over 550 methamphetamine lab scenes as both lead investigator and site safety officer since 1999. He is a court certified expert in methamphetamine and its associated clandestine labs. Greg has trained law enforcement, civilian groups, educational system employees, medical staff and correctional personnel in methamphetamine and other drug related topics. Greg Ferency is the author of Narc Ops: A Look Inside Drug Enforcement.

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