LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – COVID-19 has tightened restrictions between the border of Mexico and the USA. Experts say that’s driven up prices on narcotics like methamphetamines here in Middle Tennessee.
Perhaps nowhere is that felt more than in the “Meth Triangle”.
The Meth Triangle is an area that stretches from Hohenwald in Lewis County to Mt. Pleasant in Maury County and Summer Town in Lawrence County, explained Sheriff John Myers.
The Lawrence County sheriff said this is where meth is the predominant problem fueling violence and crime. “I say [it’s] the biggest problem in our area in a long, long time.”
Myers added, “You can always trace back all of our crimes from petty theft to felonies back to methamphetamines. It’s that serious a problem.”
COVID-19 has affected supply and demand. “All the way from our street-level purchases to our mid to upper-level dealers, and we are seeing an increase,” Myers said. “It is because of the border and they can’t get it across as easy as they use to.”
And the price of meth isn’t the only thing going up during this time. “We are seeing an increase of crime across the board,” said Myers.
Nowhere is the problem more serious than in the “Meth Triangle”.
“This area is isolated and it’s hard to get to. You are a half-hour from every county and the bad guys know that,” Myers explained. “They know they are in an area, low in population and high in crime and they don’t have to see us every day.”
It’s a problem Myers said they are working hard trying to solve. “My attitude is we are not going to stop we’ll keep applying pressure on them till we get it fixed.”
When the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office go on a raid they have to go hard and fast.
“You don’t know what’s behind the door. You go in hard and fast and anyone in the house gets handcuffed and the house is cleared.”
Myers showed footage from a September 9 operation where members of the 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant targeting methamphetamines.
The moments are tense as every second matters. The video shows people everywhere. You don’t
know who is who and who is reaching for what in the situation.
“That is the reason that everyone goes to the ground and gets handcuffed,” said Myers. “It is not uncommon for us to talk to people who might have been there visiting who are innocent, and say we are sorry for how this happened, but you are in a house selling drugs and we don’t know you.”
The dangerous operation illustrates the dangers of the war on meth.
A warning from Myers to anyone looking to sell meth in Lawrence County, “We are coming hard and hit you where it matters and that’s the way we roll.”
He said if you sell drugs you’ll end up in jail, or as he described it, “the Lawrence County Bed and Breakfast.”
Jared Hand is a trustee at the Lawrence County Jail. The 29-year-old is now clean and sober, but in 2017 he got busted on meth charges.
Hand said meth initially made him feel euphoric. “Once on it, that’s all you live for,” described Hand.
But it wasn’t long before euphoria turned into paranoia and after years of using meth, he hit rock bottom.
Sheriff Myers said Jared is a prime example of someone the drug tried to destroy. “He is your average blue-collar hard-working guy who made mistakes and got hooked on methamphetamines, and he had to sell to keep his habit under control.”
Hand is currently serving four years but he says meth has taken even more time from him, “it took ten years of my life I can never get back.”
He may never get those years back but he also believes he is in a much better place now, “I’m glad that I am here and where I am today.”
Hand hopes to further his education and go to college.
News 2 is investigating the effect of meth’s comeback. Tennessee Meth Wars digs deeper into the drug’s evolving impact on individuals, communities, and law enforcement. Read more here.