PINELLAS COUNTY - Methamphetamine is becoming the illegal drug of choice in many communities across America and taking its toll on users, the judicial system and health care.
A derivative of amphetamine, the drug is a very powerful stimulant that can be easily made in clandestine labs using ingredients such as cold medicines purchased over the counter. A 2005 survey of law enforcement agencies by the National Association of Counties ranked "meth" as the number-one drug by 58 percent of those polled.
To educate law enforcement, health care providers and other agencies about the spread of meth, Pinellas County is co-sponsoring Clan Lab Awareness: The Dangers of Methamphetamine Labs in Your Community on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Petersburg College's Digitorium, 9200 113th St. N., Seminole. The program is free.
The forum will be presented by Sgt. Jim Wingo, the Missouri State Highway Patrol's clandestine lab training officer. A law enforcement officer with more than 26 years' experience, Wingo has been educating other officers about meth since 1996 and has trained more than 15,000 people nationwide. He also teaches at St. Petersburg College's Florida Regional Community Policing Institute and Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training Program, which is sponsoring the forum with the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and the Pinellas Substance Abuse Advisory Board.