Ford calls off principal rotation between schools

Miner Photo /MITCHELL BATSON

Jim Smith, a detective with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, displays items commonly used to make crystal meth- amphetamine.

A Phoenix police detective who also spoke during the Kingman seminar on Thursday said the process contaminates a home with odor and discolors it and the people who make the narcotic.

"Responding to Drug Endangered Children: Creating a multi-disciplinary response to children exposed to methamphetamine labs" was presented by the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Representatives of the state Department of Public Safety, the Phoenix Police Department, St.

Joseph's Children's Hospital and Childhelp USA gave presentations during the day-long conference at the Kingman Police Department.

DPS detective Jim Smith spoke of the ingredients needed to make crystal methamphetamine, how the narcotic is manufactured and its inherent dangers, signs and symptoms.

Smith reminded the audience throughout his presentation of the recognizable clues that someone is using or manufacturing methamphetamine.

Ingredients such as allergy pills, red phosphorus, hydrogen peroxide and iodine are mixed and heated.

Coffee filters are used to drain the inert ingredients from the drug.

This process contaminates the entire living area where the substance is made and results in discoloration of surfaces and the hands of those who make it.

In a 1,000-square foot home, every surface is contaminated by the airborne particulate, Phoenix police detective Tim Ahumada said.

Often, methamphetamine users buy their ingredients in bulk quantities from discount

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stores, Smith said.

Sometimes store employee tip off police.

Motorcycle gangs - such as Hell's Angels, the Dirty Dozen and the Mongols – and Mexican nationals are heavily involved with crystal methamphetamine production and distribution in Arizona, Smith said.

The gangs and Mexican nationals recently have begun cooperating in the business, the gangs controlling distribution and Mexicans providing the necessary chemicals.

Smith referred to "Mexican national super labs" that make anywhere from 50 to 200 pounds of methamphetamine in the desert.

After manufacturing the drugs, the Mexicans dump the byproducts in the desert and move on.

Smith said they use bed sheets draped over 50-gallon drums as filters.

More common household labs often have large supplies of cat litter, which is used to absorb the smell the drug gives off during production.

Police find 10- to 15-pound bags of cat litter in homes that doesn't have cats, Smith said.

Phosphene gas is a deadly byproduct of methamphetamine production that must be removed from the living area, he added.

Methamphetamine users and manufacturers generally aren't very bright, Smith said, citing the example of one man used an exhaust fan to remove the noxious gas but didn't hook up a hose to the fan.

The largest methamphetamine bust in the state occurred in Flagstaff.

Two Northern Arizona University students made enough Ecstasy to supply four Southern states, Smith said.

An average of 30 people are required to clean up a methamphetamine lab, with costs averaging $6,500.

This often doesn't include removing the contaminated carpet or walls.

Methamphetamine corrodes everything it comes into contact with, which provides another clue for police.

Smith cautioned people to ask for another room if the hotel they check into has discolored walls, especially in the bathroom.

People have used hotel/motel rooms for production of their drugs, he said.

Ahumada said that nationally, 67 percent of methamphetamine labs are discovered because of a fire or explosion.

"We're stumbling onto them," he said.

He noted that children are victims and material witnesses to the crime of methamphetamine production, which involves Child Protective Services employees.

"It crosses all social and economic borders," he said of those who use methamphetamine, which he called "the worst drug that has hit the U.S."

"Only 6 percent of methamphetamine users are able to get off this stuff," Ahumada said.

Long-term effects of methamphetamine use include skin sores, which cause users to scratch frequently.

They can be jittery and are known as "tweakers."

Methamphetamine use often leads one to become a sexual deviant, he added.

"A lot of victims of molest come out of these homes."

Methamphetamine is highly addictive.

One can "go up" on a high for 14 days, and then sleep for 20 days, he said.

To report a suspected methamphetamine production lab, call (877) STP-METH (787-6384).

For more information, go online at www.stopdrugs.org, or call (888) 466-6384.

For counseling, call (888) 412-8272.Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Mike Ford has decided not to pursue a principal rotation plan that has generated controversy in the community.

A brief press release from Ford's office was received this morning at the Daily Miner, announcing his decision.

It added only that a principal-rotation committee will continue to meet in order to develop a policy and leadership training program to accomplish his goals.

The subject of principal rotation first came up in late January.

Ford said he planned to move principals in seven of the district's 10 schools to different buildings for the start of the 2004-2005 school year.

One principal also was identified as moving up to a district directorship position, meaning eight of the schools would have new principals.

Ford, who could not be reached for comment prior to press time this morning, has said the rotation would help principals get a better picture of education in the district than what they get by staying in the same building year after year.

He has said he wants to build a district leadership team with an eye toward one of those principals eventually being ready to become the next superintendent in a couple of years, when he retires.

During a meeting of the district governing board on Feb.

10, 13 people spoke out against the plan.

Members of the governing board also were divided on the issue.