If members of the Combined Ozark Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Task Force (COMET) are looking for job security - they have it.
Having had great success with reducing the number of home grown meth-amphetamine cooking operations in South Eastern Missouri appears to have increased the complexity for law enforcement.
Meth is and continues to be a problem. Cooks have become increasingly sophisticated and byproducts further away from anything regulated or designed to have compatibility with the human body. Think household gin during prohibition, with dynamite grade combustion scenarios and a thousand times more addictive.
Junkies faces are easily identifiable with sunken cheeks and bulging eyes as if they were watching the climax of a horror flick.
The panicked look of Taney County addict reveals the story of COMET's recent busts. The cycle begins again. The poisonous fruits - meth's core ingredients - begin flowing north through the Arkansas border.
Meth's victims ensure demand rises faster than supply can be regulated.
Since regulations have slowed Missouri production, demand has triggered new supply routes through the Mexican border providing high grade - as many addicts call it - Nazi Grade product.
Though meth addiction permeates social and economic barriers its dominance lays clearly within the environment of the very poor - unlike Meth's sister - cocaine.
Cocaine supply is limited to smaller circles and seems to provide a greater challenge for police and seems to flow with relative safety.
The Taney County Prosecutor's office and 38th Circuit Judges are trying to determine the difference between addicts and dealers. The strategy is to treat addicts medically and increase sentencing and responsibility for suppliers.
One case, or experiment - involves prosecuting a meth-dealer with Murder charges. The legal precedent hasn't been fully established but has a favorable outlook.
They are attempting to prosecute Adam Larkin on second degree murder charges. The Taney County Prosecutor's office asserts Larkin supplied Keith Peckinpaugh with meth-amphetamines resulting in Peckinpaugh's overdose and death.
On the treatment side, drug courts seem to be an effective alternative for addicts - if they can be viewed as victims. The program usually involves 30 - 60 days shock time with a year of counseling and other mechanisms - which include monthly visits with Judge Mark Orr. They try to get to the root of the problem. The strongest argument for the programs success in reducing "crack babies". Department of Corrections stats state over 35 Taney and Christian county children have been born drug free in the last year.
The picture above was taken in June 2007 of a meth-addict prying out a tooth. At first she didn't want the picture shot, I purchased pizza for her and her children and promised not to publish her whole face.