Narc Ops
Greg Ferency  More Info

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Chasing Speed VI of VII

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Part VI of VII

The meth culture obviously is bathed in violence, for several reasons. This is s drug that makes us feel smart, capable of doing anything, the confidence to take on anyone (including law enforcement), the energy to accomplish any task and the paranoia that rivals schizophrenia. Under these circumstances I promise you have a dangerous person on your hands. Even minor conflicts can escalate into acts of severe violence. Those involved in the meth culture will serious injure or kill someone over something as simple as who has a better haircut. I am being slightly factious here, those involved in this culture don’t care what their hair looks like, but you get the point.

 There are two things that are required to consummate a drug deal - trust and greed. These are two words that usually don’t go together and whenever one circumvents the other a shooting, stabbing, assault or some other violent act occurs. Both parties, the seller and the buyer, must trust each other enough for the deal to go through. And be greedy enough, either for the drug or for the money, that they are forced to trust each other. Rip offs and acts of violence between the two parties is only a flinch or paranoid thought away. Or it may be a rip the entire time on the part or either side of the coin. This is what makes undercover work so dangerous. The undercover officer never has a rip on their minds, if only because that would ruin the case, not to mention become a very dangerous way to conduct operations. This being the case the bad guy (whether the undercover is playing the dealer or buyer) always has the first move. The undercover officer, along with the security team around, is constantly in a reactive mode. They must react to whatever the bad guy (or girl) does toward them. I guess if undercover work was easy anybody could do it. Having said all this don’t assume because the undercover is playing the role of a drug dealer that they are at any less risk from being harmed or even killed. The buyer poses just as much a threat to them as vise versa.

 Violent crime tends to come in the form of secondary crimes. These crimes can come in many forms for many reasons. If someone has a $100 per day habit they are going to need to finance that habit. Armed robberies, muggings, assaults and numerous other crimes fall habit to an intense meth user. It is simple economics. The habit must be supplied and it takes money to do that. It comes down to this simple fact: When it comes to your personal safety and the meth user getting what they need you are going to become a victim of whatever they have in mind. Now it is possible you will win whatever altercation takes place, but that by no means that you were not a victim of some type of wrong doing or criminal action.

 A person may become a victim of a meth user by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The user may be hallucinating. They may see horns come out of your head and watch in horror, as you turn red and grow a tail. As far as they are concerned you are a demon coming to take them to hell. Have you ever watched a person fight a demon, they fight with every molecule of their body. Odds are you were walking your dog or trying to help someone that you believed were in some kind of distress.

Many meth users will often find themselves in debt to their dealers. Dealers don’t give drugs away; they sell them for a price. What they will do is “front” out dope to others, what this means is that the dealer will give someone drugs with the expectation of being paid in a timely manner. This is part of the culture and not uncommon. Violence associated with drug debts are real, along with being plots of major movies and TV shows. 

As a family member of someone involved in the meth culture you are most likely going to be the first victims. After the exhaust their own financial supply they will start manipulating you for cash and then start outright stealing from you. Obviously, you are going to sense that something is up after a certain period of time and a confrontation is going to be inevitable. This is a very dangerous situation for you and my advice is to never confront these people by yourself. Remember, the smallest things can set them off and the confrontation may quickly turn from verbal to physical. Many of those involved with meth arm themselves in some manner. It may be a knife, impact weapon or even a gun. There is no reason to approach someone alone to ask them why they are doing this or that. If the police know or even thinks they need to confront someone involved in the meth culture they will always send at least two officers (ideally more) to the scene. This is just common sense. Don’t assume because you know or are related to this person you are confronting that they will surrender to your ideas, thoughts, accusations and advice. There is nobody in this world that can tell you everything is going to turn out okay.

Violence comes in many forms. The gambit of it ranges from opportunistic criminal activity to outright rage from being under the influence of meth or its withdrawal symptoms. When you get right down to it does it really matter to the victim? Meth literally has the power to cause mayhem on all levels in a community that is saturated with it. Some may even compare its influence and effects to a type of drug related terrorism.

Violence is part of the negative social effects that we all must endure. When meth comes to an area or community it brings more than the people who distribute and use it. You can literally watch an area stung by this drug as it transforms into what we as Americans would consider a Third World country. Houses and yards are in disarray; there is a constant police presence due to calls for service that range the entire gambit of crime. Others in the community will be hesitant to go into that area. Prices of homes and property will go down. You get the point. All the recreational and addicted users supply the dealers with money, which in turns provides power and maybe even influence. At its simplest level they are certainly supplying the dealers with the means to control and even harm them. If a drug dealer shoots at someone with a high-powered military style weapon system (rifle) and misses their intended target. Now lets say that bullet traveling at three thousand feet per second and it hits you or someone you are close to, casing severe injury or death. Odds are that that drug dealer bought that weapon with drug proceeds or traded drugs outright for the gun. We are not just limited to firearms here. The dealers buy cars, houses (maybe one next to you) and other items that accelerate their cause and purpose. As far as law enforcement goes all these items make our job much more difficult, frustrating and even dangerous. It is not uncommon for the dealers to have better equipment and be better armed than we are. Remember, drug dealers are not putting the money they make back into the community for a good or common cause for that community. The community and its people are simply a pool for which they draw their consumer market.

Lets not forget domestic violence. Spouses of someone involved in the meth culture have a marked increase of potential violence that can be directed their way. Can you imagine living with someone with all the baggage I have just written about? There are countless episodes of spouses and partners being assaulted, battered and killed by their meth using significant other. It may start out as mild (for lack of a better term) but you can almost be guaranteed that it is going to escalate into the most severe forms of abuse. Again, families are usually the first victims. Spouses and / or other family members will often find themselves huddled in a corner of a room watching and listening to supposed love one trashing the house and threatening physical harm. After awhile that corner is not going to be enough of a shelter.

Another issue that involves violence in the culture is sexual assault. When you take all the points I just mentioned it is easy to understand how an aggressive male high on meth would not take no for an answer from a non-willing female. Sexual assault is rarely reported anyway, and even less so in situations like this. The now victim may be reluctant to report the crime to law enforcement for several reasons. They may feel like they might get into trouble because meth was offered to them and they obliged in its ingestion. They may have just gotten themselves involved with a person whose history was not known to them. They were simply out for a date and things turned violently wrong. Their attacker may have threatened them and when they saw the meth driven rage in their eyes they believed whatever threat was thrown at them. When you add all these situations and compile them with the common reasons for a non-report to the police the odds of criminal prosecution for these people go down dramatically.

Meth is one of the few drugs where we will see parents and caregivers actually attack the children they are responsible for. There are constant accounts where parents have killed their children while under the influence of meth or its withdrawal symptoms. During a meth binge a couple in San Diego killed their four-year-old niece by dunking her in a tub of boiling hot water and literally burning her to death. Prior to her death the young girl sustained mental and physical abuse that could not be imagined by a rational human being. Her mother who could not or would not take care of her due to her meth abuse gave this young victim to the aunt and uncle, who intern became her killers. This child is dead because the people she was forced to trust to take of her found a dirty disgusting drug more important to them than her life.

Another man driving down the roadway in the southwest United States with his young son. Suddenly he took out a knife and stabbed is young son who was in the passenger seat countless times. For good measure he cut his sons head off and threw the body on the side of the road. His statement was that while withdrawing from meth he saw his son turn into a demon and had to destroy it. The beheading was to make sure the demon was dead.

These are not isolated incidents. They happen across the United States on a regular basis and few can probably think of more heinous types of crimes. Children are utterly defenseless against these people. Cops have only sporadic contact with this type of person and try to never even unless there are several of us there. We also have the training, tactics and the physical size to defend ourselves, not to mention the weapon systems (both lethal and non-lethal) available to us. All these kids can do is endure the abuse directed to them while the rest of us pray that we will find and rescue them before it is too late. I am not accusing every parent of possible homicide if they are using meth. What I am saying is that the outright possibility of it greatly increases with the meth culture. I am also not using the word rescue lightly here. When we have contact with kids due to a law enforcement action against their parents the word rescue is not out of the question. This is definitely an area where we want to error on the caution of the child’s safety. It is not fun taking a kid from a home for which they may only know as a normal household, but who ever said any rescue of any type is easy easy.

Outright abuse isn’t the only danger that a child can be exposed to in the meth culture. Neglect of the child(ren) is more common and can be just as perilous. My unit had an arrest warrant for a guy in his very early twenties. We observed him go into a house and in turn went to the house to serve the warrant (the warrant was for possession of methamphetamine). We made our way inside and found several other young adults and kids inside. The house was a disaster by any person’s opinion. Trash was strewn all over the place, feces was spread on windows and walls and the smell inside was terrible. The odor was a mixture of outright trash stink and chemicals associated with the manufacturing of meth. We found our guy hiding between a bed mattress and the frame and he was quickly taken into custody. We then found a meth lab and something a little more disturbing. As we were inventorying our evidence we noticed what appeared to be a large box. In reality it was a crib that had been sound proofed using Styrofoam and cardboard. Nobody would admit it but in my opinion the only reason to due that is so you could place a child inside and not be bothered by its cries and or screams.

When a parent is under the influence of meth they obviously are not able to take care of their kids in a fashion that is acceptable with Western culture. You just cannot be dedicated to meth and your kids at the same time. They may fake it for a while, but sooner or later the dope is going to win out. Even if they are providing food, clothing and shelter we all know that is not enough in today’s society. Even after a week long binge on meth they eventually are going to have to crash. The physics of this drug just say that is going to happen. Now if one or both parents are crashed out for several days and nights at a time who is taking care of the kids, nobody that is who. Grandparents will often get calls from other family members saying that they are at the house and the kids haven’t been fed or taken to school or had their clothes changed etc… If the child is old enough they may even call someone and ask them to bring them something to eat, because mom and or dad are “sleeping.”

Even simple needs of the child can be hard to produce by the meth using care providers. If you have ever walked into a hard-core meth users residence you will notice that they have pizza boxes lying around everywhere. They can not concentrate long enough to cook and they have no motivation to “go out” to eat – in their minds there may be cops out there somewhere. So they order delivery pizza almost every night. As good as pizza is a child cannot get the proper nutrients eating it every night. Meth users love Mountain Dew. Go into a meth users house and you will see the soft drink bottles and cans everywhere. Meth causes the mouth to become very dry. You will notice e meth user constantly smacking the gums, licking their lips and doing other “mouth exercises” in an attempt to get some saliva going in there. The users I have spoken to say that they enjoy the citrus taste, which helps moisten their mouths and quenches their thirst. When they introduce meth into their bodies by smoking and snorting they claim that the tissue in the throats and mouths become sore, scratchy and irritated. They claim that Mountain Dew is less acidic than other soft drinks and it doesn’t burn to drink and swallow it. I have a sneaking feeling that the caffeine, a stimulant, contained in the drink doesn’t hurt their feeling any either. I was once in a house buy meth from a couple that was using and selling the drug. As I waited for the male to retrieve the dope for me I watched as the female poured an amount of Mountain Dew into their infants bottle and gave to the kid like it was milk. I knew they had money because I just gave them one hundred dollars of our buy money, but apparently going to the store to get milk was too much trouble. I spent as little time as possible before I got the arrest warrants for them.    

Many meth users become so comfortable with their habits they don’t try hiding the paraphernalia items used to ingest the drug from their kids (or the drug itself for that matter). They leave the stuff lying around like it was paper and toiletries. I cannot give you any stats, because kids getting injured by drug paraphernalia aren’t reported to the authorities, but the number of kids who are exposed to these items in what is supposed to be the safety of their homes is probably staggering. Can you imagine a child picking up a syringe and putting it in their mouths or sticking himself or herself or another sibling? Injury and accidental ingestion of the drug is probably not only common, but a life threatening issue that cannot be stopped until it is to late.  

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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