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Thomson investigator documents dangers of methamphetamines with "faces" presentation

When the hard, cold-nose facts are laid out with faces to go with it, it's hard not to believe, contends Thomson Police Department Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle.

The faces of those on the screen were real - not actors.

It showed how those individuals looked before they started using methamphetamine and how they now look after becoming hooked on the highly-addictive drug.

The guest speaker was introduced by Steve Chalker, a local Rotarian, who works with Jefferson Energy Cooperative.

Lt. Whittle addressed the growing trend of such illegal drug use in the Thomson area to members of the Thomson Rotary Club during their weekly luncheon last Thursday.

"There's no doubt about it, it's a growing problem here in Thomson - one that has taken over the use of crack cocaine," said Lt. Whittle. "But we're battling it as best we can from a law enforcement standpoint."

His comments came before and during a slide presentation depicting how real persons look after using methamphetamines. It's titled, "The Faces of Methamphetamine."

"This is a very addicting drug," Lt. Whittle said. "Some say the first time you do it, you're addicted to it."

The people who become addicted to such a drug lose sight of everything around them, including their personal hygiene.

"They won't bathe for days," Lt. Whittle said. "All they're interested in is that next high."

Many of those who use this particular drug develop sores on their faces - some of which turn into scars.

"Many of the people who use this drug around here, like the ones in the slide presentation, take on drastic appearances from the way they looked before they started doing methamphetamines," Lt. Whittle said. "This particular drug can alter your appearance, dramatically. Your overall appearance is highly noticeable and you drop weight, too."

The veteran lawman said it is not the ideal way to reduce weight. "Please, don't try this as a weight loss program."

Most of them lose their jobs, if they ever worked in the first place, he added. Many of them turn to crime to support their habits.

"They steal to get the money they need for their next high," Lt. Whittle said. "That's all they're concerned about in life."

The police investigator said manufacturing of methamphetamines is commonly done in drug labs found in various places. Some of those drug labs are portable - where they can be set up in cars and trucks.

Several weeks ago, local and state authorities in Thomson found certain evidence in a car in the Wal-Mart Shopping Center, "which could have allowed the setup of a portable methamphetamine lab," Lt. Whittle said. "Things like this are going on in Thomson and McDuffie County and we want to get rid of it."

People can purchase the ingredients needed for such drug labs at drug stores and other businesses. Authorities in Georgia recently have cracked down on the amount of certain over the counter drugs that had been purchased for the making of methamphetamines in makeshift drug labs.

"We're working to cure the drug problem," Lt. Whittle said. "We try everyday. The bad guys actually have the upper hand on us."

He said it is important that law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to curtail the drug problem, such as undercover operations, etc.

"They (drug users and sellers) know us better than we know ourselves," Lt. Whittle said.

Anyone suspicious of illegal drugs being used or sold in local neighborhoods are urged to contact the Thomson Police Department at (706)-595-2166.

Web posted on Thursday, August 02, 2007

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