PEQUOT LAKES -- Children and teens often find clever ways to hide their drug use from their parents.
Pequot Lakes students are no exception.
That's why narcotics agents with the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division held their first drug awareness meeting solely for parents Monday night at Pequot Lakes High School.
About 40 parents attended the three-hour informational meeting sponsored by Pequot Lakes Community Education and the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division based in Crow Wing County.
Law enforcement officers showed photographs of marijuana, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia confiscated at drug busts in Crow Wing County. Several different bongs or pipes used to smoke marijuana shown were taken from a 16-year-old pregnant teen in Brainerd, said Tim Pickar, a Crow Wing County deputy and a narcotics agent.
Drug use, particularly marijuana use, said Pickar has become a serious problem for area teens.
"For kids, it's harder to get alcohol than marijuana at this point," said Pickar.
Mike Bestul of the Brainerd Police Department said 15 years ago about 70 percent of high school students used alcohol. Now about 70 percent of high school students today have admitted to using marijuana.
Methamphetamine, or meth, is one of the worst drug use issues facing the Brainerd lakes area, said Bestul.
"This is by far the worst drug you could use," said Bestul. "Meth destroys your life. We've taken kids away from parents because the drug has got them so tight."
They explained to parents how to spot drug use in their own children and their friends. Parents need to be aware that if their children are buying or own large quantities of cold medicine, like Sudafed, or an unusually high number of lithium batteries, that these products are used to make meth. Often those who make meth prey on young people to purchase these products or steal them from area stores. They'll receive meth in return, said Bestul. Children as young as 12 in the Brainerd lakes area have been arrested for meth use.
"If your child has 100 packs of lithium batteries, give us a call," said Bestul.
The drug task force recently stopped four young people in Baxter one afternoon after receiving a tip that they purchased a large amount of cold medicine at an area store. Officers found more than 4,400 cold medicine pills, tubing and other items used to make meth in their vehicle.
Clandestine meth labs have popped up throughout the Brainerd lakes area, not only destroying lives but the environment as well, said Bestul. For every pound of meth produced, five or six pounds of waste are dumped after the drug is made. Law enforcement officers last summer busted a meth lab on an area lake. Those making the meth had been dumping the toxic waste products into the lake.
"These people don't care," said Bestul. "I'd hate to eat the fish in that lake."
Andy Galles, a Crow Wing County deputy and a narcotics agent, said club drugs like ecstasy aren't as common in the Brainerd lakes area as they are in larger cities, like Minneapolis and St. Cloud, but the drug task force is attempting to take a proactive approach to battling these drugs targeting teens.
"Brainerd isn't a major source for these drugs. Minneapolis and St. Cloud are the places where these kids are going to get these drugs, especially St. Cloud," said Galles.
Common drug paraphernalia teens often use with club drugs include baby pacifiers, Vic's Vapor Rub, light or glow sticks, dust filter masks and candy, said Galles.
Law enforcement officers encouraged parents to educate themselves about drugs and get their child in for a physical and urine testing if they suspect they may be using. One Crosby teen drug user had his room so fortified with locks that his parents didn't have keys to open his bedroom door for law enforcement officers. Galles said parents need to take an active role in knowing what their teens are doing.
"I feel I was really informed, knowing the reality has finally come home," said parent Kelly Roach, Merrifield. "You think you're safe up here and you don't think it's going to happen to your kid. I'm sad this is all who came (to this meeting)."
The Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division hopes to make similar presentations to parents at other Crow Wing County schools.
If you suspect your child is involved with drugs or need more information, contact LADID at 825-3422.
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