Three of the five men linked to the biggest meth bust in Michigan have been sentenced to federal prison.
It began with a traffic stop in Paw Paw, which led police to discover more than 20 pounds of pure methamphetamine from the vehicle and from a pole barn in Van Buren County.
U.S. Homeland Security believes methamphetamine was being smuggled into the country in hidden compartments of vehicles and then sold in West Michigan.
And crime reports show that southwest Michigan counties top the state list for meth lab busts, while burns from explosions and spills from cooking meth are on the rise in Kalamazoo County, and meth cases crowd court dockets in southwest Michigan.
Jen Cervi founded the Collegiate Recovery Program while she was a student at the University of Michigan. Today she's a substance abuse coordinator at Michigan Ability Partners.
And Jen Cervi is a recovering meth addict. She has been sober since May 13, 2006.
“The first time I tried methamphetamines there was something completely different about it,” Cervi said. “The first time I ever tried methamphetamines my brain literally lit up, and I knew that I never wanted to be sober again.”
Meth entered her life in late 1998 when one of her friends who worked at a county jail in Texas offered it to her.
“It wasn’t that I used drugs to escape my life, I used drugs to enhance my life,” Cervi explained. “I had a hard time early on balancing alcohol usage and my academic studies and the demands of my friends. So the first time I did meth I thought, ‘You know what? I can balance everything and never have to sleep again.’”
Soon, Cervi was staying up eight days straight and eating only one meal a day. She stopped going to classes. When her mother passed away, she spoke at her funeral while high.
Cervi eventually caught five felony charges for possession. The last time she was arrested was her tipping point.
“I was on a pay phone with my father in a really small county jail and I said to him ‘Fine! I’m an addict!’ And for the first time in my life I heard my voice reverberate off the jail cell walls, and I believed it.”
After coming clean, she completed her degree and went through the University of Michigan's social work program in hopes of keeping students from going down the same path she did.
“I think that I was given this disease in order to do this work,” said Cervi. “I wouldn’t be as good at this work, or have this opportunity, if I hadn’t gone through everything that I went through.”
Cervi now plans to go back to Texas to work with the Collegiate Recovery Program, as well as help incarcerated women with Alcoholics Anonymous.
-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom
Listen to the full interview above.