Once, the rugged land around Boone, N.C., near the Blue Ridge Mountains, offered cover for moonshiners and their stills. Now, methamphetamine makers have taken over.
North Carolina led the South with more than 1,150 of the nation’s roughly 8,000 meth lab seizures last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In Boone, a town of 13,500 that is home to Appalachian State University, 34 meth labs were seized last year, and social workers removed 17 children from homes where the toxic chemicals used to cook the drug saturated the walls, furniture and carpet.
Because these so-called “meth orphans” were often covered in dangerous toxins, doctors had to decontaminate them. Their toys, books and clothes had to be burned.
“The kids didn’t always understand why they couldn’t take their Barbie with them,” social worker Chad Slagle said.
Children sometimes unwittingly caused their parents’ arrest. A first-grader told her teacher how to cook meth. An older student included meth cooking in a “How I Spent My Summer” essay.