Houston Co. authorities stage meth bust training exercise

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Methamphetamine labs are a growing problem for law enforcement around the country, and stopping them is a challenge for local officials. Houston County officials hopes a training program will help law enforcement be better prepared to tackle the problem.

East Texas News got a first-hand look at the exercise and how it helps local officials.

"Meth is a problem," G.P. Shearer, the chief deputy for the Houston County Sheriff's Office, said. "It's not just a localized problem, it's a state problem, it's a national problem, but here in our area it is a widely used drug."

That is the reason, Houston County officials held this mock meth lab bust today in Crockett. The exercise allowed for officers to enter a situation and safely dispose of the methamphetamine.

Course trainers explained how household items can make this explosive drug. How explosive?

Before East Texas News arrived, one of the bottles used to for the chemicals used in the training exercise exploded.

The course was put on by Merit Group, a Pennsylvania-based group that specializes in dealing with metaphor. The instructors have enormous amounts of knowledge and even first-hand experience with meth.

"I was arrested for precurse of chemicals, and done my time, and met with a gentleman from Merit named Jake and took the program from there," Doug McWilliams, an instructor with the Merit Group, said.

The Merit Group's instructors and trainers brought with them knowledge that has traveled around much of the United States.

"We've trained in 32 states, and we've trained officers from 40 states right now, Jake Kelton, the owner of the Merit Group, said.

Meth labs have become a serious problem in Houston County. That's why law enforcement officials hope these training exercises help them catch the criminals.

"These people, they're the heroes out there, the fire department, the police officers," Kelton said. "It's a tribute to this agency that they take a proactive stance against these meth cooks."

McDaniels gave a warning to methamphetamine cooks.

"These guys know what they're doing," McDaniels said.

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