A Family's Encounter with Crystal Meth
Users get their Mexican meth from local dealers, far from the Mexican cartels producing ice or crystal. Police in southwest Missouri try to intercept meth as it moves between suppliers, dealers and users. They find the drug in unlikely places. And they encounter difficult scenes involving families and children.
In early March, two carloads of undercover officers drove down a dead-end farm road outside Ozark, Mo., investigating a tip. The officers work with the region's Comet Drug Task Force, a joint effort of the Missouri High Patrol, county sheriffs and local police. An informant told investigators they'd find a meth dealer in a white, two-story colonial home perched in a glen of trees. It's a bucolic rural setting, except for the freeway roar in the distance, the drug-sniffing dog inside, and the arrest in the driveway of a 45-year-old grandmother.
Janet Patrick consented to searches of her purse and car. Officers found a small bag of crystal meth and packets of $20 and $100 bills, wrapped in rubber bands, in increments typical for meth sales, they said.
"I did not know that was in there," Patrick cried, as handcuffs clicked on her wrists. "I swear to God, I did not know."
Patrick was babysitting her grandson, a toddler, when she was arrested. Police called the boy's mother, a17-year-old, at a local high school. The young woman arrived in tears, and agreed to speak to NPR on the condition she not be named.
"[Meth] has f---ing trashed Missouri," she cried, as she held her son. "I've always thought it was disgusting, but it makes it worse to know that she [her mother] does it."
Patrick admitted to using meth but denied she's a dealer. She has yet to be charged. Police say their investigation continues. Eight more people were cuffed and jailed at or near Patrick's home that day. Most drove up the dead-end farm road, some right up a long driveway to the house. They kept arriving as police tried to search the home. For seven hours, officers arrested and questioned suspects, and chased some who tried to get away. One of those chased is believed to be a major distributor. Police say he had a half-pound of meth in his car, a large amount.
All but two of the arrests were for meth-related charges. Three children under age 3 were watched temporarily by police as a grandparent or parent was arrested. Patrick said some of those arrested were friends merely coming to her house to visit. She said she did not know the others, including the suspected distributor.
"We could probably, literally, stay out at that one house for another three or four hours," speculated T.J. Stevens, the supervisor of the drug task force, as he and other officers finally drove away. "And [we'd] end up with continual arrests, continual methamphetamine seized, just from one house in one county of seven that we cover."
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