By Jay Meisel
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - A widely abused drug in other parts of the country may be becoming an increasing problem here, authorities say.
While few arrests for methamphetamine have been made here in the last several years, several busts have been made during the past month.
Lt. Douglas V. Hardie, head of the special investigations unit for the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, said he believes the trend is for methamphetamine to be an increased problem in the county.
Lt. Hardie said part of the reason for that is legislation-tightening regulations on prescription drugs have resulted in a much higher price for illicit street purchases.
At the same time, it doesn't cost a lot to make methamphetamine, which makes it a possible alternative, he said.
But the cost to society is high, he said.
That's not only the affect of using the drugs, but also the costs of cleaning up methamphetamine labs because of the use of hazardous chemicals, he said.
Some of the recent arrests involving methamphetamine included:
. Candice Marie Salerno, 31, and Eric Jon Ericksen, 40, both of 109 N.E. Surfside Ave., Port St. Lucie, were charged on Aug. 9 with producing methamphetamine and child abuse after Port St. Lucie police officers and Federal Drug Enforcement Agency investigators search ed the residence. They found materials used to make methamphetamine.
The couple also was charged with child abuse because authorities said the activities put their child in danger, authorities said.
. On Aug. 16, Port St. Lucie police officers and federal drug enforcement administrative agents executed a search warrant at 798 S.W. Alton Circle, Port St. Lucie. Inside the residence, investigators found a syringe, a burnt spoon with blue residue and tin foil balls that tested positive for methamphetamine residue, according to an arrest affidavit.
"Based on training experience, I know the above listed items located in the master bedroom are used to ingest/shoot up illicit narcotics," an officer said in the affidavit.
Michael John Micale, 45, and Jillian Leigh Johnson, 33, both of 798 S.W. Alton Circle, Port St. Lucie, were arrested Aug. 16 and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
. The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at an apartment in Fort Pierce after getting information about a methamphetamine lab located there.
However, while investigators found some ingredients for making methamphetamine - items that may be found legitimately in many residences - they didn't find enough to prove that methamphetamine was being produced at the residence in Fort Pierce.
They did find a crack pipe.
. Jeremy Diego Bustamonte, 22, 8236 Shubert St., Orlando, was arrested Aug. 12 and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, trafficking methamphetamine and other charges after a St. Lucie County deputy made a traffic stop.
In the car, the deputy found more than 120 grams of methamphetamine, the arrest affidavit said.
The affidavit said Mr. Bustamonte was wanted in Orlando on a charge of burglary and has an extensive criminal history.