40 indicted in Upstate meth bust - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

40 indicted in Upstate meth bust

(Greenville) January 23, 2006 - After a year-long investigation, state local law enforcement say dozens of drug dealers are now out of business. State Attorney General Henry McMaster says 40 people are being indicted in South Carolina's largest methamphetamine bust ever.

McMaster says state and local law enforcement officials conducted surprise raids in the Upstate on Sunday and took some indicted defendants into custody. 92 charges have been filed, ranging from trafficking in meth, marijuana and cocaine to failure to stop for a blue light.

Meth's effects

Meth abuse can lead to intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages. The drug causes anxiety and insomnia.

Chronic users at times develop sores on their bodies from scratching at "crank bugs," which describes the common delusion that bugs are crawling under the skin.

After meth use is stopped, withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and an intense craving for the drug. Symptoms can sometimes persist for months or years after use has ceased.

Medically, abuse of the drug can result in inflammation of the heart lining and, for injecting drug users, damaged blood vessels and skin abscesses.

Users can develop cardiovascular problems such as rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain.

Acute lead poisoning is another potential risk for methamphetamine abusers because of the production method that uses lead acetate as a reagent.

Hyperthermia and convulsions can occur when a user overdoses and, if not treated immediately, can result in death.

Methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy can cause complications such as increased rates of premature delivery and altered behavior patterns, including abnormal reflexes and extreme irritability. The use of the drug may also be linked to deformities in babies.

Information courtesy WhiteHouse.gov

The indictments allege authorities seized nearly 38 pounds of the most purified form of meth, known as "ice," in the Upstate last year.

If convicted, the group faces in excess of 2,336 years in prison. The possible fines allowable by law on all charges could total as high as $11,613,500.

Officers also seized more than a pound of cocaine, 290 tablets of ecstasy and hundreds of pounds of marijuana, as well as more than $200,000 in cash.

"This is the biggest, most significant Meth bust in our state's history, but it is only a single battle in a widening war against this dangerous drug," said McMaster. "Meth is the single largest and fastest growing drug threat facing our state."

McMaster isn't sure where the drugs were made, but says they're consistent with those made in state superlabs, able to produce large amounts of meth in a short amount of time, "This is different than cocaine or opium that have to be imported, but this is different. This can be produced right here in our state, but not quickly like this, not in large amounts."

McMaster says the street value of these drugs amounts to millions of dollars.

Agencies participating in this case include: the State Law Enforcement Division, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Easley Police Department, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Governor’s Counter Drug Task Force / S.C. National Guard.

Reported by Tamara King with AP

updated 3:33pm by Bryce Mursch

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