The Oneida City Police Department is in the middle of a battle over the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine.
On March 18th, police arrested Casey L. Spadter of Canastota. Inside his car, police say they seized heroin, LSD, cash, methamphetamine, and materials to manufacture methamphetamine.
The next day, Oneida Police arrested Scott D. Dennis for criminal sale of methamphetamine, but not until after Dennis allegedly barricaded himself inside his apartment in Oneida Castle forcing police to cordon off Route 5. A third suspect, Anna Gleba, was arrested at her home in Verona. She is charged with possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material.
Oneida Police Chief David Meeker sees a growing problem with meth in Madison and Oneida counties. "It amazes me why anyone would want to do that. Like any drug, people want to get high. They ignore the risks, they ignore the long term consequences."
Methamphetamine is not only a danger to those who use the drug, it's also a significant threat to public safety. The material required to make the drug is extremely hazardous and explosive. A state police unit called the Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team (CCSERT) is specifically trained to handle meth labs. CCSERT was called in to process the evidence associated with the arrests of Spadter and Dennis.
Pat DiPirro says the team was originally created with Homeland Security funds to handle "weapons of mass destruction", but often helps with methamphetamine arrests. "You have a lot of hazards involving meth." DiPirro explains, "You have a fire hazard, you also have a chemical hazard, chemical burns... along with the actual absorption of the drug itself through your skin."
The meth drug problem in New York State is getting much worse. DiPirro says CCSERT units were called to handle 12 meth labs statewide last year. So far they've already matched that number this year.