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Meth Cases Slowing, Drug Still A Community Problem

ANDERSON — Two people are heading to prison after receiving sentences for methamphetamine-related convictions on Monday, but authorities are seeing a downward trend in the drug.

Still, drug task force detectives warn it’s still out there.

James R. Hampton, 47, and Kelsey J. Coverly, 35, are co-defendants in a lab bust that happened in September, and both were sentenced Monday by Madison Circuit 6 Judge Dennis Carroll. Hampton was sentenced to 12 years, with six executed in prison, while Coverly, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges, was sentenced to four years, with 18 months executed.

According to the probable cause affidavit on their case, drug task force detectives were tipped off that the two had been cooking meth at a home in the 400 block of Suburban Drive. Precursor logs also showed Coverly had been making several purchases of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in homemade meth production.

Detectives went to the house and smelled the distinctive odor of methamphetamine and found several incriminating items in a bucket in the backyard. When they entered the home, they found stripped batteries, coffee filters, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and other precursors — chemical ingredients to meth-making — throughout the house.

The narrative reads similar to dozens of lab raids made by detectives in recent years, but the numbers are down, according to drug task force officials. After Madison County ranked first in the state and second in the country in labs seized in 2012, detectives Jason Brizendine and Lee Ann Dwiggins underwent training and earned certification to specifically deal with the problem.

The number dropped from 96 seizures in 2012 to 61 in 2013. The year to date figure is trending lower again through 2014, according to Brizendine, but meth remains a problem in the area.

"I think the efforts by law enforcement are definitely showing. A few years ago, it seemed like we were dealing with labs almost nightly," Brizendine said. "They’re still out there, but we’re making an impact."

Prosecutors are noticing, as well. Deputy prosecutor Dan Kopp, who tried the cases against Hampton and Coverly, said he has prosecuted a number of the meth cases that have inundated Madison County felony courts in recent years, and he has seen the influx slow down.

"They’re making a difference," Kopp said. "And this is good for the defendants in the long run, believe it or not. Making meth is an inherently dangerous activity, even if you were a chemist. So getting these people away from that destructive behavior is good for them and for society as a whole."

Like Jack Molitor on Facebook and follow him @aggiejack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

By the numbers

Madison County ranked first in the state and second in the country in meth labs seized in 2012.

The number dropped from 96 seizures in 2012 to 61 in 2013.