Brookvile Native Seeks To Make Amends For Cooking Meth During Dangerous Life

Brookville-methBROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Cooking meth is a dangerous business, not only for the poison that is produced but the potential to explode things in the process. Nothing about it is glamorous and certainly doesn’t deserve any sympathy.

James McMillen started using meth as a teenager in his hometown and thinks his addiction to manufacturing or cooking meth is more addictive than the drug itself. He offers an upsetting and cautionary tale of the drug life.

After several drug-related arrests, including his last on February 22, 2013, in South Carolina, McMillen wrote a book, “Mechanix of Meth,” as an introduction to the problems and pitfalls of being addicted to “cooking” meth.

“I was arrested after law enforcement discovered an active meth lab at my residence,” McMillen told, “I had been deeply involved in the use, distribution, and manufacture of methamphetamine for five years prior to my arrest.”

The book was part of his recovery from meth addiction, according to McMillen, and he would like to make amends for his past involvement.

“I had struggled for years wanting to quit but unable to do so,” said McMillen. “I received three years for my crimes, and while incarcerated, I worked a program of recovery that I had learned in another 12-step program. My book goes into depth about my recovery.”

Started at an early age in Brookville

McMillen, now 49, started alcohol and drug abuse at a young age. McMillen also said he no longer has a desire for meth and part of his recovery is helping other people.

“I started drinking and using it when I was 13, and it was very prevalent in the area and there was a lot of drug use,” said McMillen. “I did a lot of meth in the early 80s in the Brookville area and got very involved. It wasn’t being cooked like it is today, and there were only two sources, Arizona and California, and the bikers were bringing it across the country. It actually dried up for awhile because they outlawed P2P (phenyl-2-propanone) and stayed dried up until they started learning new ways to make it.”

McMillen switched to cocaine when the meth disappeared and was heavily involved with the drug until 1989 when he was arrested for DUI.

“Before I got out, they convicted me of delivery of cocaine, and they gave me seven years on top of the one to two. I did do a bit of time in Pennsylvania.”

When he got out of jail in Pennsylvania, he said he didn’t mess again with drugs until 2008, and he had about 17 years without using drugs except for alcohol.

McMillen, a 1983 graduate of Jeff Tech with an electrical technology degree, worked in a lumber yard in Brookville after graduation, and after he got out of jail in 1995, he worked for four years in a Brookville charcoal company. He was diagnosed with macular degeneration and was unable to work since 1998 when he was declared legally blind.

He moved to South Carolina in 1999 and stayed away from jail until 2013 when he was arrested, and his addiction to meth and cooking meth were the main contributor.

“I was caught with an active lab in my house and two boxes of Sudafed and half a gram of dope. They had me dead to rights, they knew what I was using Sudafed for and found everything needed to convert it into meth.”

He was sentenced in 2013 but was able to gain parole in May 2014 and published his book available on Amazon after his release to try and help others who may be addicted.mechanix

Revisiting Brookville

McMillen has returned to visit Brookville a few times over the years, but when he was sober and in recovery, as soon as he hit Brookville he found himself drinking and using again, so he stopped visiting Brookville.

“I had intended going up there with a few assistants of mine because about five or seven years ago they told me there was only one person cooking in Brookville, and the stuff wasn’t any good, and they were selling it for $200 a gram, so I was going to make a road trip just to come up and cook because I felt I could make a killing.”

He had established a reputation for himself starting in his youth, and it wasn’t a good one.

“Everyone in Brookville knew, except for my parents. God bless them.”

Since his recovery, he has made promises to his dad.

“I gave my dad my word. I said, ‘Dad, I will never ever cook meth again, and I have no desire to do it again,’ and now that I gave my word to him, I would rather die than break my word to my dad. I keep praying that I will never use again, but I know I will never cook again.”

Cooking Up a Lethal Mixture

After looking at the ingredients used in meth, the average person would question why anyone should even be around the mixture, let alone ingest it into his or her body.

“When I started using meth, that was when I learned if you buy a box of Sudafed, they’ll give you half a gram, so I started buying Sudafed for these guys and actually got heavily involved with old-school cooking, and that’s a more elaborate, larger deal than shake and bake. I was with them for awhile, but I am legally blind, so in order to see what’s really going on, I had to get really close to the bucket they were cooking it in and the fumes would actually knock me unconscious.”

“I was never able to get into the cooking until a guy showed me the shake and bake method. Since it’s inside a bottle, I could actually hold the bottle and lean it on my forehead and look inside the bottle and see what was going on.”

“That was really insane because the mixture that they’re putting in these bottles is the same that Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The same exact ingredients on a smaller scale. It has a potential for exploding.”

“I did this on a regular basis, and it scares me now when I look back on it. I’ve cooked in a lot of places, and I’m trying to make amends to people now, but there are so many places that I cooked in that have never been cleaned up by qualified professionals. That residue is potentially still there, and I can’t believe the amount of risk I put out there and the amount of risk the rest of these people are doing now.”

Lethal Ingredients

“I had to get really, really close to everything I was working on, and the most dangerous part for me was peeling the metal housing off lithium batteries because a lot of times I was working in un-air-conditioned places, and I would be sweating and a drop of moisture got on the lithium it would cause it to ignite and explode. If the housing is still on it and that happens, it’s like a quarter of half a stick of dynamite. I would be sitting there looking at it from about two inches from my eyeball with wire cutters stripping the housing, and if a drop of sweat dripped on it, it would have blown up.”

“I absolutely refuse to teach anyone how to cook and destroy themselves. The book goes into the cooking process, but isn’t a how-to-book.”

McMillen said he put some of the details in the book to demonstrate that he knows what he is talking about, and that “he’s been there and he’s done it.”

Money Attracted Him to Meth at First

“I had a guy living with me in my spare room, and he was a shake and baker. I started watching him do it, and he told me I might be able to do it. I thought if I learned how to do it, I would make more money.”

“I was already selling a lot of meth, pills, and stuff. I was running at least an ounce of meth through my hands a week. I did make really good money for a short period of time, and then the addiction and the insanity started, and I ended up losing a lot of money.”

“When everybody started cooking, and they all started doing the shake and bake, things changed. I knew guys that had to train for two years before they were actually allowed to cook meth, and now with the shake and bake, everybody’s showing everybody how to do it. They have no scruples at all. I didn’t teach anybody how to do it. People are out there just (showing) anybody how to do this without any warnings about dangers. It’s getting extremely dangerous out there.”

Why Should People Listen to Him Now?

“I’ve been there and can pinpoint all the pitfalls.”

“I donate books to jails, and I plan to go to the Augusta Burn Center in Georgia because a lot of cooks end up there from bottles blowing up and suffering chemical burns.”

“I’m still on parole now, and my parole officer is cool with me going to jails and stuff. I’m scheduled to get off parole soon, and then I’ll be able to travel out of state. I will be coming to Brookville to visit my dad, and if anyone needs me to speak anywhere, I’m more than willing and happy to do it.”

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