The drugs seized at a Rossville residence on June 28 had a potential street value of nearly $250,000, including nearly $200,000 worth of meth and $48,000 in heroin, says DeWayne Brown, commander of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, which spearheaded the drug bust.

The drug task force seized 9 pounds of meth and arrested two people at 819 Park City Road. The task force also confiscated 8 ounces of heroin, 24 grams of psilocybin (mushrooms), a firearm and $1,300 cash.

The task force, which serves Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Chattooga counties, worked in cooperation with deputies from the Walker County Sheriff’s Office road patrol division.

Arrested and charged were: Kimberly Grayson, 49, Rossville, charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; Matthew Showalter, 47, Signal Mountain, Tennessee, charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Showalter has outstanding felony warrants in Hamilton County, Tennessee, for guns charges.

Meth math

According to Brown, the 9 pounds of methamphetamine seized in the bust equals about 4,082 grams. Each pound of meth contains 453.59 grams of the drug.

Meth is often sold to individual users in what is known as an 8-ball, a package containing 3.5 grams of the drug (about one-eighth of an ounce). That 3.5-gram buy will cost the individual as much as $150. So if eight 8-balls were purchased, the illegal buy would total 1 ounce in size, yet cost $1,000.

Cmdr. Brown and those who participated in the Rossville drug bust confiscated as many as 1,275 8-balls of meth, not just eight. That’s a total street value of $191,343, which could have adversely impacted 1,275 individual buyers, Brown said.

Meth easily available

“It is just so much easier to get the crystal meth now because it is coming out of Mexico,” Brown said. “And it is less expensive. They ship it here in liquid form and then a conversion lab turns it into the end product that is sold.”

While metro-Atlanta serves as the main conversion lab location for those in the drug trade, LaFayette had such a conversion lab in operation in August 2018. It has since been dismantled by law enforcement, thanks to the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force and its fellow law enforcement agency, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office.

More heroin, too

The Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force commander said there is a “huge increase in heroin right now, too, due to the (prescription) pills being harder to get.”

According to Brown, the crack-down on doctors who were writing unwarranted prescriptions, coupled with the greater oversight and monitoring programs for pill purchases, has served to diminish pill availability.

That, therefore, is driving up demand for other forms of heroin to purchase for illegal use, like the pure heroin confiscated in the Rossville drug bust.

Pure heroin is heroin not cut with any other product, such as fentanyl. Fentanyl-laced heroin and other synthetic opioids have been blamed for more than 28,000 overdose deaths nationwide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Brown said the Rossville bust did not include confiscation of any fentanyl-laced heroin.

Like meth, heroin isn’t cheap. A person can expect to pay $150 for 3.5 grams of meth, but the same person would have to pay $200 per one gram of heroin, Brown said.

In the Rossville bust, the task force and sheriff’s office deputies confiscated 226.8 grams of heroin. One ounce of heroin equals 28.35 grams. The 8 ounces confiscated by the drug task force totaled 226.8 grams that have a street value of about $48,000.

Mushrooms

In addition to the meth and heroin removed by Walker County’s Sheriff’s Office during the drug bust conducted with the task force, the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit drug agency also removed 24 grams of Psilocybin (mushrooms).

One ounce of these “shrooms,” as they are called, cost as much as $200.

These drugs, which Brown says are more psychedelic in nature (causing thought, vision, and auditory changes due to serotonin impact), are mostly sold in ounce quantities and produce LSD-type effects.

Total drug street value of bustAlmost a quarter-million dollars worth of meth, heroin and Shrooms were confiscated in the Rossville bust.

Brown says meth, heroin and other drugs continue to be a threat to the community. The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, in cooperation with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office — and all other agencies in the judicial circuit, continues to make the dismantling of conversion labs and the arrest of drug dealers and manufacturers (and confiscation of illegal drugs) its No. 1 priority, he said.

Jan Morris is assistant editor for the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.