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The iceman cometh.

The Iceman Cometh

OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, national attention has focused on the drug abuse problem with ever-increasing alarm and concern. We have seen the meteoric rise of cocaine as the drug of choice within the community of abusers. As coke has moved into its position of prominence, we've observed the myriad of problems that have accompanied it.

This one substance has caused such social, economic, and international upheaval that it has required American military forces to assist in stemming this menace's flow into the United States. Nevertheless, as if cocaine hasn't proven to be enough of a problem in its own right, we've witnessed the even greater threat posed by coke's chemically refined offspring--crack.

With its ease of production and administration, low cost, abundance, availability, and improved high, crack has now moved into the position its parent once held.

As if nature's most powerful stimulant hasn't presented itself as a most formidable foe, we now have a new challenger looming on the horizon. This new challenger is called "ice."

Drugs, like so many other things around us, go through cycles of popularity and use. In the case of drugs, this is largely due to factors such as cost, availability, or resurgence of a new, improved version of a previously popular substance. Thus, what are often heralded as new in the press are actually old drugs in new forms. This is the case with ice.

Ice is a highly improved variation of the controlled drug methamphetamine. "Meth," as it is known, was very popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In its initial, pharmaceutical form (dextroamphetamine sulfate), it was used for weight loss.

Use led to abuse, and abusers eventually created such a demand that illicit laboratories began producing crude forms of methamphetamine--bennies, white crosses, and cartwheels. These found popularity among students, housewives, and truck drivers who needed a lift to get them through the day. Ultimately, full-scale production was initiated as demand created a ready market for the illicit entrepreneurs.

In its previous period of popularity, methamphetamine was also called crank, speed, and crystal. It was produced in both solid (pill) and liquid forms. The new refining method for the parent substance has led to the creation of ice.

Ice, the newest form of methamphetamine, is of considerably higher purity and potency. Current estimates of ice purity are 97.7 to 100 percent.

The euphoric effects of ice can be achieved via smoking, snorting, or injection. As with crack, the favored method for using ice is smoking.

This is done by placing a small sliver or chip of ice in the bowl of a small glass pipe. These devices are usually about six inches in length. Heat is applied to the bottom of the bowl, the ice vaporizes, and the vapors are inhaled. The euphoric reaction is nearly instantaneous as the smoke enters the bloodstream and is taken immediately to the brain.

Smoking is quite popular because the residue in the bowl can be quickly cooled, causing it to recrystalize. Once returned to the crystalline form, the ice can be stored and used later. With this method ice gives more bang for the buck.

Ice was given its name due to its crystalline appearance, similar to that of rock candy. This high-potency form produces a euphoria that lasts much longer than that of crack. A crack high may last from 15 to 20 minutes, while ice produces an amphetamine intoxication that lasts from eight to 24 hours.

Like crack, ice is an extremely strong stimulant that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It causes a person to become hyperactive, nervous, agitated, talkative, and sometimes violent. This tendency toward violence results from the chemically induced paranoia that attends amphetamine abuse and makes the abuser completely unpredictable.

Other indications of its use are increased blood pressure, increased respiration, and dilated pupils. Death from cardiac arrest can occur in users without warning. As with crack and other CNS stimulants, the effect varies greatly from person to person. Due to its high potency, ice is considered to be both physically and psychologically addictive and an extremely dangerous substance.

The down phase to the use of ice is equally extreme as the up phase. On crashing (formerly called "amping out"), users may experience acute depression, confusion, severe anxiety, and even suicidal tendencies. Extreme care and caution should be exercised in handling a person under the influence of ice or coming down from ice intoxication. Trained medical assistance should be sought, too.

Prices for ice are comparable to those of crack cocaine. Grams of ice are sold for approximately $100 each, with prices varying slightly depending on location. Ice is marketed in varying quantities ranging from pounds down to the "rock," depending on the buyer.

What makes ice so economically attractive is the initial investment versus the yield. For the price of a few hundred dollars in chemicals and equipment, the ice produced can yield thousands of dollars in return.

Also, ice can be manufactured in the United States with commercially available chemicals as opposed to cocaine, which must be imported from South America. This also gives ice a market advantage, as it is not subject to border interdiction operations that can disrupt shipments, result in the arrest of personnel, and hurt profits.

ICE PRESENTS A CONTINUATION OF the many threats to security that have always been associated with drug abuse in the workplace. The protection professional confronted with workplace drug abuse must participate in developing and implementing a comprehensive program to counter this threat. If such a program has been adopted, an ongoing review of systems must be maintained to ensure maximum prevention, deterrence, and detection.

The issue of drugs on the job should not be restricted to drug use. Rather, it should also include considerations of trafficking, and, in some cases, the possible manufacture of illicit substances in clandestine labs within company confines.

Security personnel at companies that handle the chemicals used in producing methamphetamine should be particularly sensitive to the possibility of onsite clandestine laboratories as well as internal and external theft of chemicals by organized criminal groups. These same groups may also attempt to have employees assist them in obtaining such chemicals.

Law enforcement agencies should be consulted as to the type of chemicals that might be used in the manufacture of controlled substances. Should these sensitive chemical agents be found in a company's inventory, extra special procedures and controls should be implemented to prevent any losses.

From a personnel security aspect, it is important to know that the primary groups responsible for illicit amphetamine production and trafficking in the United States are motorcycle gangs, most notably -- according to government and news sources -- Hell's Angels. Personnel working in sensitive chemical areas should perhaps be subjected to a limited investigation procedure to determine their affiliation with any such criminal organization.

An effective protection program should begin with an analysis of the various threats to employees and property. This should be performed in light of the particular company situation. Based on the analysis, practical countermeasures should be adopted, underscoring the general concept of prevention, detection, and deterrence. The program should incorporate flexibility that would allow for the problems that may emerge from changing trends in the overall drug culture.

Aspects of an effective substance abuse defense program include the following:

* Company-wide policy statement prohibiting the use, possession, and trafficking of any controlled substances on company premises or during any of its authorized activities. If the company has a unionized work force, support from the union should be sought to enhance continued success. This policy should clearly state the disciplinary procedures and penalties to be given for employees found in violation.

* Awareness training for all employees. This should stress the threat to the health and well-being of all employees that an abuser poses. Awareness should be taught not only in continued in-service training but also as a part of the indoctrination of new employees.

* Tight inventory controls to prevent the loss of equipment and other materials often stolen, sold, or traded to support a drug habit or used in the production of illicit drugs.

* Employee hot line to be used in the confidential reporting of drug activities in the work setting.

* Personnel training in the recognition of drug activity. Briefings should include the different types of drugs and their effects, recognition of drug paraphernalia, various symptoms of a person under the influence, and recommended procedures for handling an affected abuser.

* Liaison with appropriate law enforcement agencies for information and assistance in substance abuse matters, specifically the FBI drug demand reduction coordinator found in most FBI field offices throughout the United States.

* Availability of adequate medical response personnel and facilities either on-site or within proximity for any drug-related emergencies.

Vigilance is the key factor in a company's substance abuse defense program. It is not enough merely to incorporate the various foregoing points. The security manager must continue to monitor the company situation to note changing or newly emerging conditions, including new drugs of abuse, changes in company inventory or production, and sociological changes in the vicinity of the plant.

Supervisory personnel should be required to observe workers to determine their condition and well-being. This is especially important for personnel working in isolated or out-of-the-way areas of the plant. This observation should result in a prompt report of any worker found to be under the influence of a drug or for whatever reason unfit for duty.

INTELLIGENCE SOURCES HAVE IDENTIFIED ice as being produced also in several Far Eastern countries such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. From these points it is funneled through the Hawaiian Islands and then into the West Coast of the United States. Its availability is so great in San Diego, CA, that that town has been dubbed "Crystal City."

As with any new drug, certain users want to be the first to try it in hopes of finding the ultimate high. With this demand come the usual rip-off dealers who are purporting to sell the new substance. However, their product is usually a phony concoction. This appears to be somewhat the case with ice, hampering an accurate assessment of the threat.

Media accounts present this powerful new form of methamphetamine as the potential replacement for crack cocaine because of heavy national and international enforcement concentration on crack and cocaine interdiction. Crack may crack under this multiforce policing effort. Thus, users would be compelled to find a replacement.

However, much of this prediction remains to be confirmed as crack continues to flow into and throughout the United States almost unabated. It is still a plentiful threat that most can easily afford. In addition, ice is still in its early stages of introduction to users; its production facilities, chemical supplies, and trafficking organizations and routes are not as firmly established as those of crack. This late start in marketing may be limiting its rapid expansion into the drug community.

Although ice has many attractive features for abusers, it may not unseat the monarch drug. Rather, it may simply be another lethal player asserting itself on an already burgeoning drug market.

Ice does have one critical advantage over crack cocaine. As mentioned earlier, it does not depend on plants grown in some remote area of a foreign country. Instead, it can be produced in clandestine labs in this country with chemicals easily obtained from a variety of hard-to-control sources.

This factor may make it extremely difficult for Asian organized crime groups to maintain the control they initially possessed with ice's manufacture and export to this part of the world. Too, South American drug cartels are not willing to part with their control of the cocaine trade and its monumental proceeds to enter the ice market.

Although ice is making a gradual eastward movement from the West Coast, it can be found in such out-of-the-way regions as Braxton County, WV, the site of a recent ice investigation.

Ice appears to be more of a coming threat than one in full swing. Only time and drug market competition will define the role ice will play in the continuing drama associated with drugs.

Richard A. Haynes, CPP, is a lieutenant in the Charleston, WV, police department. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Substance Abuse; methamphetamine
Author:Haynes, Richard A.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:Trends for the '90.
Next Article:A strategy to stop substance abuse.

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