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February 19, 2013

Antrim officials fight meth wave

MANCELONA — Police and prosecutors vow to send a message amid a “disturbing” spike in arrests for methamphetamine production in Antrim County.

The prosecutor’s office issued 10 methamphetamine-related criminal charges since December, and assistant prosecuting attorney James Rossiter said authorities expect there will be more to come.

The Antrim County Sheriff’s Department made its first arrest tied to the drug in late 2010, when police raided the home of a couple who were suspected of maintaining a lab, or facility used to produce the stimulant.

Meth activity had since dropped off police’s radar, said Antrim County Sheriff Daniel Bean.

“We had drug issues, but then this picked up last year,” Bean said. “It came on quickly.”

Incidents started up again in June when authorities investigated a man for manufacturing meth in the trunk of his girlfriend’s car in Mancelona Township. A couple was accused of producing the drug in Jordan Township in October, and two others were arrested in Mancelona in December. Four people were nabbed in February for maintaining a suspected lab in Mancelona.

A traffic stop this month in Custer Township wrapped up a 10-month investigation into a suspect. Meth, paraphernalia and marijuana was found in his vehicle, Bean said.

The bulk of incidents that captured authorities’ attention occurred in Mancelona, Rossiter said.

Detective Lt. Daniel King of the Traverse Narcotics Team said a high number of labs also have popped up in Osceola and Wexford counties, and there’s an increase in production in the Petoskey area, where a suspected meth lab exploded this month.

“I would definitely say that northern Michigan has seen an increase in methamphetamine production and use,” King said.

Rossiter said specific forms of drug abuse appear in waves, and the methamphetamine activity follows a trend of crimes involving prescription pills.

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