Amish Communities Deal With Meth Problem

One look at the countryside and the beauty should take your breath away.

"If you want to retire some place, this is the place to do it," said Justin Siak. "There's something to this."

Amish country is nestled in northeast Ohio and is a snapshot of living life simple and serenely.

Thousands of tourists are drawn to Holmes County each year, ONN's Denise Alex reported.

"Oh, it's gorgeous," said Susie Eiseman. "You can try all the bakeries, all of the cheeses and fresh veggies. It's nice to get away."

People in Holmes County prefer a slower paced lifestyle and that includes the Amish. They are happy farming the fields and getting around simply.

However, a fast high has apparently started lurking in the landscape.

"The elders we meet with are very concerned about their community," said Dave Smith. "They know that it's out there. They're not immune from it."

In the past year and a half, authorities have seized 24 methamphetamine labs in Amish country. In 2007, authorizes found only one.

"The availability of producing it is relatively simple, and anybody can do it," said Donald Hall.

"Once it gets a hold of you, it just takes you," said Allen Goodwin.

Goodwin is serving an eight year prison sentence on meth charges.

"It got way out of control for me," Goodwin said. "It was either here or I was going to die. It was one of the two."

Goodwin's girlfriend is locked up too. Her 14-year-old daughter tested positive for the drug after a bust at their Millersburg home last July.

Goodwin isn't the only one who has seen the problems firsthand.

"There is a lot of things that happen behind closed doors," said another inmate who didn't want his name used.

In November, the inmate made and sold his last batch of meth before his home north of Millersburg was raided. He is also now paying the price in prison.

"I have to spend eight years in prison. That's a lot," he said.

His family's shame is why he didn't want to reveal his identity. However, he said that the hidden secret should be known.

"The first person I did meth with was Amish," he said. "The person who showed me how to cook meth was Amish."

While it's against Amish beliefs to be interviewed on television, Alvin Hershberger talked with ONN about the growing meth problem around him.

The grandfather of 50 said that they are human and that they also make mistakes.

"I guess because the problem is in Holmes County, it's looked at as the Amish community is the problem," Goodwin said. "Yeah, there are a lot of Amish there. They party just like everyone else does."

Meth is made where barns and sheds sit on hundreds of acres of land. But, it isn't the Amish getting locked up. It's just those living in their community.

"It's a rural area down in Holmes County and it's very difficult for us to set up surveillance down in some of those areas because you would stick out regardless of the best technology you have," Smith said.

Smith heads the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency and said that the drug derived of inexpensive household products slowly eats away at users.

Smith said that it's a wakeup call that often comes too late, Alex reported.

"Being away from my family and my grandson is what's hard," said the inmate who didn't want his identity revealed.

It's a lesson learned behind bars for some and a problem tackled all over. Meth seeps into the fabric of farmland just as easy as anywhere else.

"Drugs are everywhere," Goodwin said. "If you want them and you want to find them you're going to find them. You don't always have to want to find them. Sometimes they can find you."

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