TELEVISION CAMERAS CAPTURE RURAL DRUG EPIDEMIC --
ON "60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY" ON CBS
There's a drug epidemic in the country's heartland, and the raw ingredient fueling it isn't poppies from Afghanistan or coca from Colombia -- it's pseudoephedrine, and it can be found at almost any of America's corner stores. That's because pseudoephedrine is in dozens of over-the-counter cold medicines and, in many states, it's being used to make methamphetamine, a drug considered to be as addictive as heroin or crack cocaine. Correspondent Vicki Mabrey reports on methamphetamine use in Missouri and accompanies Franklin County's Detective Corporal Jake Grellner's narcotics squad on a raid on 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) March 2 on the CBS Television Network.
About 80 percent of meth is mass-produced in so-called super labs in California and Mexico, but the drug has become so easy to make that small do-it-yourself labs are popping up by the thousands across the country. In Jefferson County, Missouri, Sergeant Tommy Wright and his task force set a national record by busting 313 mom-and-pop labs last year. "[My job is] extremely dangerous," he says. "...We've had incidents where we've surrounded a house and they barricade the doors and set the house on fire with themselves and their families in it."
Thirty-one-year-old Selena McDowell also knows the danger surrounding meth use. She was married with three children when she got hooked on the drug and lost her job, husband and home. "...In a blink of an eye, it was gone and I don't even know how I did it," she tells Mabrey. McDowell and her children then moved in with a man who made meth at home. They were living surrounded by containers of flammable ether, ammonia, starter fluid and thousands of cold pills. "One move with that tank could have blown up my whole house and me and my children sky high," she says.
Detective Grellner has seen how easy it is to make meth. He is proposing a law to further regulate the sale of pseudoephedrine in Missouri. "It's a recipe," he tells Mabrey. "Can you make chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips? You can't make methamphetamine without pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, and if it ends up that, three days from now, they start using marshmallows to make meth, then I guess we'll have to do something about marshmallows."
Jeff Fager is the executive producer of 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY and Josh Yager is the producer of this report.