Dangerous drug comeback: Meth 'epidemic' exceeds heroin in some communities

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A dangerous drug is making a comeback and prosecutors say the supply chain runs right through Columbus.

Though headlines in recent years have been dominated by the heroin crisis plaguing Ohio, law enforcement in a six-county area say they are seeing an epidemic of methamphetamine. In some communities, meth has surpassed heroin.

As a young man, Bobby Wirick experimented with numerous drugs. He says nothing grabbed hold of him like meth.

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"It was the first time I tried it," he said. "I liked it so much, it was just like a hook. As soon as I tried it, I was on the hook."

What followed was a descent into addiction, despair and desperation.

"It quickly destroyed my life and I was too blind to see it because I was high almost 24/7. I had my own house and I lost it. Own vehicle, lost it. Had a job, lost it. It just put me in a spot to where I was like, I don't have anything else to live for."

Wirick is far from alone.

Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville says meth is back in a big way.

"In 2015, it was almost even — 47 percent of our cases were heroin and 45 percent methamphetamine. But since that time, heroin has tailed off and methamphetamine has really taken off," he said.

He says 89 percent of Knox County's drug cases now involve meth.

Lab testing numbers from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation show that statewide, meth cases more than doubled heroin cases last year and so far this year.

McConville says he believes there are two factors contributing to the resurgence of meth: it's a cheaper high and the message has gotten out about the potential lethality of heroin mixed with fentanyl, where just a single dose can be fatal.

A year-long investigation culminated last month with charges against three people accused of supplying much of the meth in Knox County.

McConville says the meth pipeline went from Mexican drug cartels through Columbus via Kristy Crawford and Danile Beckham.

They're accused of supplying to Lisa Poole, who McConville says supplied at least 25 street dealers in Knox County alone.

From left to right: Danile Beckham, Lisa Poole and Kristy Crawford.

"Moving more than a pound-and-a-half of meth through Knox County every week," said McConville.

Bobby Wirick is now more than two years clean.

He says through Knox County's MERIT Drug Court program, he found accountability tempered with compassion.

He urges others fighting the same demon to get help now.

"It will take everything you have. It will take it quickly. Unfortunately, you're not going to realize it until it's all gone," he said. "One of these times you're going to pick up the wrong thing and you're not going to have a chance to change."

Police are looking for the accused heads of that drug ring.

Danile Beckham, Lisa Poole and Kristy Crawford are all charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking and racketeering.

Crawford was apprehended in Morrow County on May 22.

Anyone with information on them is asked to call your local police.