Counties in the panhandle facing meth epidemic

Local News

(WMBB) — In rural communities across the panhandle nearly every crime stems from the same source.

“Meth seems to be the catalyst for the majority of the problems that we have all the way from our violence, as far as domestic violence, and our thefts is all tied back to the meth issue,” said Gulf County Sheriff, Mike Harrison.

Several local sheriffs are working hard to fight a drug issue that is having a major impact on their communities.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said they’ve been fighting the growing issue since he ran for Sheriff in 2016.

“All these rural sheriffs are working really hard to stop this problem if you go to Liberty County you’ll see they are working hard Gulf County, Calhoun, they are all working hard but still it gets back to money, said Smith. “We need money to help us fight this problem, we need technology, we need boots on the ground.”

In March, Smith met with fourteen other sheriffs to discuss solutions to the meth epidemic.

Each sheriff agreed it was their number one issue, so smith requested the help of Governor Ron DeSantis to find a solution.

They were able to meet with the Governor in May.

“Meth is coming to Florida from Mexico to California to Georgia then down to Florida, that’s one of the ways it’s coming,” said Smith.

Each of the twelve counties was able to receive up to $50,000 from FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen from residual burn grant money to go towards solving the problem.

Smith says he’ll use the bulk of the money to pay for overtime to work the meth problem and he’ll use the remaining money for cameras to put up around drug houses or to use as undercover technology.

“We need help. A lot of money is going to opioids in the big counties, but nothing has been coming to the small counties as far as helping us with meth, said Smith.”The $50,000 we got is kind of the first step and I am hoping there’s more and we are going to continue bringing these sheriffs together.”

Harrison said tips from the community are the most helpful. One of the ways the public can help is by sending in anonymous tips using TheSheriffApp.

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