By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The District Attorney's office in Tulsa County has a zero tolerance stand for methamphetamine, and it shows. Tim Harris' office sent 53 meth cooks to prison since June, and not for two or three years but for 15, 20, even 35 years.
Why are they being so hardcore about this crime? One word: safety.
Call this a wall of shame: Mark Mooney, 20 years after starting a fire an apartment complex; Richard Blalock, 35 years after making meth, shooting at a deputy and having eight prior felony convictions. Randall Johnson got 32 years, Martin Bolzendhal, 23; Michael Thompson, 21; Thomas Marlin, 21; Alton Calvert, 20, and James Brassfield Sr. 18 years. The list goes on and on.
Tulsa County Drug Prosecutor Tony Evans heads up the drug prosecution team in Tulsa County and says whether it's a jury trial or a plea deal - meth cooks are going away for a long time.
"I think the citizens of Tulsa County are fed up with meth cooks," said Evans.
And, this is a big part of the reason why: meth cooks are starting fires at an alarming rate and innocent neighbors are getting caught up in the drug making inferno. This fire at the Royal Arms killed two people and left one brain dead, and a fire at Commanche Park also killed one.
Because of an easier, cheaper method, more people are making meth than before.
"I know the word on the street now is if you're using, you're cooking," said Tony Evans, drug prosecutor for Tulsa County.
The new method is called "shake and bake" because they put the chemicals into a two liter bottle and shake, but the chemicals can leak out of the plastic and catch fire. Because of that danger to innocent citizens, police officers and firefighters, the DA's office is taking a hard line stance against meth cooks, offering a at least 10 years in prison for first time offenders.
"Beyond that, it can range, 14 to life or 21 to life depending on the priors," Evans said.
The huge spike in meth lab fires we've seen is right now, a regional problem. The Oklahoma City area isn't having the same problem and no one is quite sure why, although police and prosecutors say it's just a matter of time.
The good news is with all these big time prison sentences, Tulsa is actually seeing the meth problem slow down just a little.