Meth Use On The Rise, Police Say After Large Midvalley Bust

November 30, 2018
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Meth Use On The Rise, Police Say After Large Midvalley Bust

Once largely confined to more rural counties, methamphetamine use is gaining in popularity in Lackawanna County, police said, even as the opioid epidemic continues to extract a deadly toll.

Police in the Midvalley this week took more than a quarter-pound of methamphetamine and more than $16,000 in cash from a Dickson City home, prompting the Archbald Police Department’s public warning of methamphetamine as the “latest drug trend hitting our streets.”

“We’re seeing it a lot throughout Lackawanna County,” Archbald Police Chief Tim Trently said. “That’s what were making a lot of arrests on.”

Police on Wednesday charged 59-year-old James Johnson, 452 Morgan St., Dickson City, with drug-related felonies and misdemeanors following an investigation of methamphetamine sales in Dickson City.

In total, members of the Lackawanna County Drug Task Force, Dickson City police and Archbald police found 159 grams of methamphetamine at Johnson’s home. They also found $1,502 in his wallet and $15,280, along with various jewelry, in a safe.

District Attorney Mark Powell said officers have focused on countering an increase in methamphetamine activity. So far this year, there have been 18 arrests made for methamphetamine, twice the number seen in 2017.

Several police chiefs contacted Friday said their departments have seen a steady increase in methamphetamine use, particularly within the last year.

“There’s a lot of focus on opioids now, and rightfully so,” Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano said. “I believe some of the users are transitioning to other drugs.”

There are a number of whys. For example, methamphetamine can be made on the cheap with ingredients bought off store shelves, Graziano said.

Acting Dickson City Police Chief William Bilinski said that some heroin users are becoming afraid of fentanyl-laced dope.

Fentanyl, a narcotic many times more potent than heroin, is still the driving force behind the majority of drug related deaths, Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland said.

“They tend to be a bit more afraid of the heroin and are switching,” Bilinski said.

Though heroin and methamphetamine produced wildly different effects, “a high is a high,” Bilinski said.

No methamphetamine-related deaths have been reported yet this year in Lackawanna County, Rowland said.

Johnson remains in the Lackawanna County Prison on $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled 9 a.m. Thursday.

Contact the writer: jkohut@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT on Twitter

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