Breaking Good: Local narcotics team gains traction as it grapples with meth 'epidemic'

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 04:02 PM.

"The unit really puts in some very mind numbing hours trying to make a difference," added Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson. "There is a significant amount of risk faced not just from the criminals, but the toxic and explosive potential in the chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. Even with these circumstances the Walton County Vice unit is one of the most effective drug units in the state, that's not just me saying that, the numbers back it up."

Meth is not only a dangerous substance to consume, but if handled improperly, can cause fire and explosion hazards. Inside his WCSO office last week, Maddox shared several videos depicting how quickly the drug can cause a fire.

"Meth users discard these hazardous items anywhere — even playgrounds," he said.

Handling the meth users is also hazardous in other ways.

"You're dealing with someone who's been awake for days," explained Maddox. "They're not thinking straight. They're very paranoid, hallucinating, very volatile. Not to mention most of all drug dealers have weapons on them."

Even with evidence, breaking Walton County of its ties to meth manufacturing is not simple. With the Fourth Amendment, officers still need to obtain a warrant to search homes, which can give meth dealers and makers the necessary time to get away.

"The seizures only reflect the labs narcotics officers were able gain the information necessary to execute search warrants and make arrests; and doesn’t reflect the large number of labs we have intelligence on that has not reached the threshold of search warrant requirements," Maddox said.       

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