A local agricultural retailer has begun using a pink additive intended to discourage theft of anhydrous ammonia. The chemical is often stolen for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine, an illegal drug referred to as "meth".
Growers Co-op is using GloTell in its tanks in Clay, Vigo, Sullivan and Knox counties in Indiana. The additive costs about $9 per ton of anhydrous ammonia, according to the manufacturer, Royster-Clark Inc. of Norfolk, Va.
The GloTell product turns anhydrous ammonia liquid pink and stains whatever it comes in contact with. It is readily visible and the pink stain can be detected with ultraviolet light up to 72 hours after someone attempts to wash it off hands or other objects.
Police can therefore determine if a suspect has come into contact with anhydrous ammonia.
When ammonia is treated with GloTell, it is no longer suitable for the manufacture of crystal meth. It causes the finished meth to turn into a discolored pasty substance. If a drug user snorts the discolored material, it turns the nose pink. If a drug user injects it, it turns the skin pink at the point of injection.
Meth is the fastest growing drug threat and the most prevalent synthetic drug manufactured in the U.S. today. Its use now surpasses cocaine, hash and heroin. Children living in homes where meth is manufactured are at risk of being injured, abused and neglected.
The Indiana State Police reported 43 meth lab seizures in 1998 compared to 1,260 lab seizures in 2003. State Police anticipate there will be 1,500 or more lab seizures this year.
Last year, State Police reported 29 meth lab seizures in Clay County alone compared to 108 in Vigo County, 53 in Sullivan County and 71 in Knox County.
Indiana State Police Sgt. David Phelps told The Brazil Times the State Police have been involved in 17 meth labs in Clay County this year between Jan. 1 and Nov. 2.
Sgt. Rob Gambill of the Clay County Sheriff's Dept. said two meth labs have been found in the county this year.
Gambill said they've had 52 arrests for possession of meth or a controlled substance through Oct. 15 this year compared to 56 arrests for all of 2003.
"There's more commercial use of meth in the county now than before," Gambill said. "That means the meth is being imported in rather than being made here.
"GloTell is a great thing. It should decrease the number of ingredient thefts and the number of explosions. But we'll probably still have the usage problem.
"There's so many new ones hooked on it. They have a taste for it now and will probably continue to use the drug whether it's imported or home made."
Brazil Police Chief Mark Loudermilk said two meth arrests were made in the City this year. Most meth labs are made in the rural areas to avoid detection.
Loudermilk was asked if he thought GloTell would make a difference in meth production and usage.
"It's got potential," he said. "It will make ingredients a lot harder to obtain or make the meth more difficult to use. Almost nightly there is an attempted anhydrous ammonia theft. Time will tell. But it's got a lot of potential to help make arrests."
Mishler hopes the GloTell will make a big difference.
"The biggest thing is something needs to slow down the use of methamphetamine," Brazil Growers Co-op Manager Jim Mishler said. "It's devastating to families and to the health of the people using it. We've got to come up with something to slow this thing down."