The Scourge of Meth

Methamphetamine hit the area like a wave in 2010, leaving behind addicts, burned buildings and endangered children. Police continue to turn up labs in Berwick, Danville, lower Luzerne County, and scattered areas across Columbia and Montour counties.

In addition to our continuing coverage of meth lab busts and related arrests, the Press Enterprise examined meth's local impact in a three-day report, including:

  • The drug battle in Berwick, where many of the meth busts have come
  • Photos of more than 100 meth suspects, plus recaps of the criminal cases against them
  • An interactive map showing all of the area meth busts to date
  • One suspect's story of addiction and arrest, and his hopes of staying clean

This series ran in the print edition over three days, May 12 to 14, 2013. You'll find the stories here. The photos and map will be updated regularly with new suspects, cases and lab sites.

If you're interested in the latest meth-related news from our area of Pennsylvania, scroll down the page, or click here.

Day 1:

METH MANIA

Recipe takes root in Berwick
BERWICK -- The local methamphetamine boom can be traced back to a simple recipe, brought to town by a Berwick native returning from the South.

From large lab to lone user/cook

Downsized formula is portable, needs no expertise, police say
When local authorities were first warned years ago about meth labs, they were taught to look for giant drums of chemicals used for mass production. But when the first meth lab surfaced here, it was a single bottle of liquid found bubbling in the basement of a Berwick home in 2010.

Review of Arrests, Suspects

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review of methamphetamine busts and suspects comes from court records, police reports and newspaper archives.


Day 2:

'I WAS ... A GHOST'

Meth addict cooked, lied
The following story is based on the recollections of a recovering methamphetamine addict who agreed to speak on the condition his name would not be printed. His name has been changed, but no other details have been altered.

'Instantly' hooked

Users shake out into cooks, smurfs with hard habit to quit, experts say
People who use methamphetamine become exhilarated, hyper-alert and hooked. "It's pretty much instantly addictive," says State Police Cpl. John Casciano. "You use it, and it just takes over."


Day 3:

Drug labs leave homes tainted

Codes officer: Berwick council mulling guidelines for toxic meth properties
BERWICK -- After police have hauled the suspects away and the hazmat team has packed up the evidence, the scene of a meth lab is still a dangerous place. The chemicals used to make the drug -- household cleaners, camping fuel, stripped batteries -- can leave an invisible toxic hazard behind.


Other recent meth-related stories:

South Centre Township man had ingredients for drug, officer reports

SOUTH CENTRE TWP. — Just a month after Michael “Bandana Mike” Wheaton pleaded guilty to selling meth to an informant, he was caught with the drug...

<p>SOUTH CENTRE TWP. — Just a month after Michael “Bandana Mike” Wheaton pleaded guilty to selling meth to an informant, he was caught with the...
Shick man admitted cooking in nearby woods, officers say

SHICKSHINNY — Police tipped off by the “alarming amounts” of decongestant purchased by a single household found the makings of a meth lab inside a...

<p>SHICKSHINNY — Police tipped off by the “alarming amounts” of decongestant purchased by a single household found the makings of a meth lab...
Four arrests in five days make small dent in ‘big problem,’ officials say

SHICKSHINNY — Frustrated borough officials pleaded for manpower from the state Saturday to aid in a months-long battle against meth. The fight has...

<p>SHICKSHINNY — Frustrated borough officials pleaded for manpower from the state Saturday to aid in a months-long battle against meth. </p...

BERWICK — Police called to an argument between a man and his mother here Monday found methamphetamine ingredients in a bedroom, charges say....

<p>BERWICK — Police called to an argument between a man and his mother here Monday found methamphetamine ingredients in a bedroom, charges say...
Mother of three had drug in system, officers report

CATAWISSA — The three young children taken from a Hetlerville meth-lab trailer last month did not have the drug in their systems, police say. But...

<p>CATAWISSA — The three young children taken from a Hetlerville meth-lab trailer last month did not have the drug in their systems, police say...