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NH's cooking: A lot of meth

The New Hampshire National Guard has a Civil Support Team. Its purpose is respond to calls involving weapons of mass destruction. It does that, in a way. It is most often called to handle meth labs, one of its members told this newspaper back in October.

The Lakes Region, where "On Golden Pond" was set, has its own drug task force. It is active.

Last Wednesday, police in Tilton arrested seven adults at a meth lab there. One of the adults was holding a 3-1/2-year-old boy in her lap just feet away from a highly explosive mix of chemicals that were being "cooked" to make the addictive drug. It was a familiar sight to the police. In Thornton a few weeks before, the drug task force found "the same kind of situation with a youth involved," Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier said. That meth cooker was positioned four feet from a crib, police said.

In Bristol in September police found a meth lab in a small apartment building. In February a meth lab was discovered in a West Merrimack Street townhouse in Manchester. All of these labs were one-pot, or "shake and bake," operations. The process is so simple - a few ingredients shaken up, carefully, in a large soda bottle - that just about any idiot can do it. And many do. The process has led to a huge increase in the number of meth labs in the United States in the last few years.

In New Hampshire, these labs have become a serious problem in small towns. No longer do drug dealers need connections to drug cartels, gangs or big-city crime organizations. Videos online show how to make the stuff, and the ingredients can be found in any town with a drug store and hardware store.

Six years ago the U.N. World Drug Report crowned meth the most abused drug in the world, with 26 million users - equal to users of cocaine and heroin combined, as a PBS "Frontline" report noted. It is cheap, highly addictive, and spreading across New Hampshire. And this is just the beginning.

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