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WAYNESVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) - Indiana State Police officials said it is a growing problem and a substance most recently suspected in a gruesome homicide.
Many say the scene has drastically changed in Waynesville where police are investigating a quadruple homicide, which they now believe to be drug-related. Law enforcement across the state said those who pass by towns across Indiana may be overlooking an even greater problem without even knowing it.
"We are battling it, and it's a war. There's no exaggeration: it is a war out here," said Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police.
"We're battling for safety, we're battling for kids, were battling to keep people off of this stuff and we are battling those who are trying to make money off it."
Goodin said methamphetamine has become a growing epidemic everywhere. Those who live in the tiny town where meth was suspected as a factor in a quadruple homicide said they have seen issues with the drug before.
"I know that this town has a bad grip on methamphetamine," said Waynesville resident James Cody.
"It's just taken over here."
Goodin said methamphetamine has consumed lives in many forms.
"It just destroys families," Goodin said.
The 22-year-veteran of ISP says things have only escalated in the war on drugs in the state since he began his career in law enforcement.
"Our drug problem just got worse especially with the potential of death and what I mean by that is the drugs have become more dangerous," said Goodin.
Goodin said prescription pills are the number one problem, but meth is a close second. Up until March, Goodin said ISP troopers found 435 meth labs, up from 413 at that time last year.
"I doesn't only affect the people that are using it or the people that are making it," said Goodin.
"It affects everybody around them."
Goodin said they could see the repercussions, even in the school system.
"A lot of kids times we have dysfunctional kids in the schools, you'll have a 10-year-old try to raise 3-year-old sibling because their parents are methed out or they're addicted to another drug."
He said the drug epidemic does not only create negative repercussions for users and cooks.
"Methamphetamine is everywhere – it's in the small towns in the big cities and if you don't think that it's around your neighborhood you're living in a hole," Goodin said.
He said what made drugs like meth and heroine so dangerous is the fact that those involved have special addictions.
"So they're willing to kill, they're willing to rob, they're willing to steal. They're willing to do anything," said Goodin.
"It's a more addictive drug that obviously becomes a more violent drug. And the reason why is because people will do anything they can to get the drug.
He said while new laws were going into effect in June to limit the amounts of pseudo ephedrine a person could buy, legislation can only do so much.
"If a person is addicted, if a person wants that drug so bad, they will do anything they can to get it and unfortunately there's no law in the land that can change that."
Goodin said they want the public's help in keeping a watchful eye before more lives are ruined.
"Let's just talk reality here, we do not have a solution for this problem… If you have a solution please call in I'm all ears."
Goodin said they did their best to educate the public on warning signs. The main sign he said to look for is a person attempting to purchase large amounts of pseudo ephedrine.
"That is the one ingredient in meth that cannot be substituted," said Goodin.
He said many people known as "smurfers" would attempt to get others to purchase the "Sudafed" for them and then sell it to the cooks.
Goodin said in addition to looking for that, it was important to look for things like multiple "brown-colored" 2-liter bottles in a person's home or laid out for garbage.
"That's usually a sign of the one pot labs, which are becoming more common," said Goodin.
Goodin said the one-step labs have become more prevalent and he believed the increased number of labs over the past year could be because officers are receiving better training than in the past.
He said they had special officers who did nothing but search for meth labs to try to combat the problem. Law enforcement officials said they need to rely on the eyes and ears of the public to address the concern.
"Please call us with any suspicious activities," said Goodin.
"The worst feeling in the world is someone who thought they saw criminal activity but never called and told anyone."
Goodin said if a tip came up empty, they would rather be safe than sorry. He said the methamphetamine hotline tips have also added to the number of spotted meth labs because people are becoming more alert on what to look out for. The number to the hotline is 800-453-4756.
For more information on meth in Indiana, click here.