Battle plan to fight meth changing

LAWTON--The battle against meth came to Lawton on Monday with a shoot-out between drug agents and a suspected meth dealer, and now the question is, how is the fight against meth going?

Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, said since the passage of the Nik Green Law, the number of meth labs seized statewide per month has significantly decreased.

"We were getting between 120 and 160 labs a month here in Oklahoma," he said.  "Now we're getting maybe five or six.  That law was about stopping meth labs and it's all but about knocked them out."

But meth is still filtering into the state, thanks to international meth rings.  The new meth coming into Oklahoma is coming from Mexico.  The reduction of meth labs statewide has now opened up agents, money and resources previously used in the hunt for the labs.  Those agents and resources can now be focused on infiltrating the Mexican meth trade.

"A lot of these people who used to cook, or still cook, but can't get any local meth have ties to these Mexican organizations,"  Woodward said.  "These people can't cook it, but they still have the addiction and they need it."

In the case of 43-year-old Darren Alan Howell of Lawton, who was shot and killed by agents after he shot two agents as they were serving a warrant, Howell is suspected to be tied to a local meth lab.  Woodward said their surveillance of Howell showed he was probably using associates to buy the maximum amount of pseudoephedrine possible at local pharmacies.

One of the agents shot on Monday was treated and released.  The other, from a local drug task force, is still in the hospital recovering from his wounds.  Doctors treating him hope physical therapy will be able to repair internal injuries he suffered, as well as nerve damage.