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Dowagiac Rotary Club/’Drugs will never go away’

Published 8:21am Friday, March 19, 2010

Dowagiac Daily News

As a former prosecutor, Judge Herb Phillipson can’t understand how methamphetamine so permeated the fabric of Cass County.

There’s an article about a meth bust on an almost daily basis – Berrien County made seven arrests at Red Roof Inn in Benton Township on Wednesday.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Thursday, “Keep in mind, drugs are kind of like cutting the grass. It will never go away.”

At best, authorities can hope to “minimize” a problem like meth and drive it to another locale.

“Cass County is better than most counties in the state” at doing that, Fitz said.

“We take a multi-faceted approach. I don’t reduce meth charges. But we also work with drug court. We’ve had some real success there. We also use a program called Teen Challenge. We’ll give individuals a chance to either go to prison for a long period of time or spend a year in that highly-successful program. We try to use the carrot-and-stick approach.

“Actually, our meth use in Cass County has actually gone down compared to surrounding counties. I’m happy when I hear from probation officers, ‘Don’t do meth stuff in Cass County because they’re serious about prosecuting.’ That helps, but it will never go away. Our objective is to keep it as low as possible.”

“Meth is a unique insidious drug” to combat, Fitz added, because of its adaptability.
A few years ago its makers stole anhydrous ammonia from farms.

“They make it different, easier ways now,” he said. “You’ve probably heard of the one-pot method. As the snow clears, we’re finding” toxic trash tossed alongside highways by mobile labs.

Fitz said while the Sudafed law inconvenienced law-abiding citizens, “It really helps us to track meth activity and to minimize it.”

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