Big Bend authorities say meth use is growing in region

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Photo: FBI(KOSA)
Published: May. 9, 2019 at 5:17 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 9, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Authorities in the Big Bend say methamphetamine has evolved from the one-pot or shake-and-bake methods traditionally mostly seen in rural areas to a more wide-spread and potent drug.

The Leon County Sheriff, Walt McNeil, says it's the most devastating drug in the last 10 years in the Big Bend region.

"I was looking for fun, looking for excitement," said Misty McCray, who thought she'd found just that by using meth. "It's not a fun life and there's a lot of risk involved."

McCray was just about 17-years-old when she tried it for the first time.

"When it became a daily habit, that's when I knew I was going down a very destructive path," she recalled.

McCray would go 13 hours without eating, stay awake three days at a time and slept for long stretches, sometimes up to 35 hours.

Once, she stayed up for 13 days.

The drugs took a toll; she lost a lot of weight, her bones were frail and her teeth decayed.

"I was literally decaying from the inside out," she said. "Other people pick on their skin. I've seen people just mutilate themselves from feeling like they had bugs in them, on them, just every little bump or freckle or anything."

"Meth and fentanyl mixed together is having devastating impacts on our community," explained Sheriff McNeil, who says meth use is a growing problem in the area.

It's become cheaper, easier to get and more addictive.

"Which drives those persons to use more and more, which then depletes them of their monies," he said. "They're then stealing, they're breaking into homes, they're committing crimes with guns. Those are then spilling over into the streets of our community."

"You cut the head off a snake, it goes away," said Bobby Green, a Leon County Narcotics Detective. "Not in meth."

Detective Green says 80% of Leon County's drug arrests involve meth.

In 2004, it was marijuana and cocaine.

But meth is different. Finding out where it comes from, and who's selling it, can be difficult.

"The people that's selling meth, they're in houses, they're in homes, they're in apartments. They travel, they're in motel rooms. They're very sporadic. There's no pattern to them," Green said. "So, we have to be very creative in our investigative skills when dealing with that."

Authorities believe stiffer penalties would help as many users get right back on the street.

As McCray puts it, "It's a miracle that I'm still here."

She's been arrested twice and continued using meth while out on bond until she was busted on a federal indictment, with 29 others.

At the time, she was just 24-years-old.

She was sentenced to nine years. And that may have saved her life.

"Eight years without having the ability to get my hands on it was great," she said.

While behind bars, McCray accessed programs, got clean and was released early.

She's been drug free since she got out.

When asked where she'd be if not for prison, McCray responded, "Probably dead. If I wasn't, I would probably wish that I was."

Now, she's sharing her story, helping others recover from an addiction which, when left untreated, can become a life sentence.

Misty is married now, she's working, and she teaches yoga in prisons.

Sheriff McNeil says they believe the meth is coming from Atlanta, Georgia. He says the Leon County Sheriff's Office is working with surrounding law enforcement agencies to help in those rural communities with fewer resources.

They're asking citizens to help in fighting this epidemic by reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement.

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