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Internet Registry Could Track Meth Makers

   |  Posted Aug 24th, 2006 @ 5:04pm


Jed Boal Reporting

Most states struggle with solutions to the scourge of methamphetamine. Several have created Internet registries to list the names of people convicted of making or selling the highly addictive drug.

Utah may take a close look at the idea as it gains momentum across the country. These meth registries are similar to sex offender registries. The idea has not come up here in Utah.

As we discovered, such a list could benefit communities, but it's not a sweeping solution either. Nationwide, the war on methamphetamine escalates. Hard-hitting Montana ads depict the devastation for users of meth. The epidemic is ugly in Utah too; it's the biggest problem for narcotics officers.

Rudy Chacon, Metro Narcotics Task Force: "Of all the cases we see, the majority, 70 or 80 percent, are methamphetamine related."

Montana lists convicted meth makers on its registry of sexual and violent offenders. Three other states have approved meth registries. There are proposals in six more states. In Utah, any weapon to fight the drug is worth examination.

Kirk Torgensen, Chief Deputy Attorney General: "There are a lot of different risks to the neighborhood and to people surrounding a meth lab. That kind of information could be valuable to people living anywhere."

Landlords want to keep the cooks out. Neighbors and potential renters want to know. The waste left from a meth house sickens people if not properly cleaned.

Rudy Chacon: "It would be something law enforcement is providing this information to help the general public deter that type of crime from our neighborhoods."

Crime convictions are already public records; a registry would make it easier to identify a meth dealer.

A property manager told us they already check backgrounds, but anything to keep out methamphetamine would save on clean-up and remodeling after a meth lab.

Eric Thompson, Property Manager: "You had to verify that you got all of the hazards out of the apartment before you could let someone else live in it, so it was an expensive remodel. I think we spend five or ten thousand dollars on each apartment."

Such a registry would require funding. It's a new idea in Utah. We'll see if it becomes a proposal in the months ahead. If so, the rights of the convicted meth cook would certainly become part of the debate

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