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Sources of Meth

July/August 2005

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) maintains fact sheets on recent patterns of illegal drug sales and use in each state. Here are a few selected reports concerning methamphetamine that illustrate the diversity of sources for the drug.


New York

While methamphetamine trafficking and abuse in New York State is a less serious problem when compared to heroin, cocaine, crack, and MDMA, there are indicators that the problem is increasing. New York has a somewhat bifurcated methamphetamine market. In the New York City area, the market is primarily for crystal methamphetamine sourced from the West Coast of the United States. Use is not widespread, although it is increasing among some subculture groups, especially gay males. The upstate market is primarily methamphetamine powder supplied by local clandestine labs, which are becoming more common. Seizures of low-yield, small methamphetamine labs have been increasing in rural New York since 2000, from two seizures in 2000, to 73 in 2003 and 53 in 2004.

In January 2005, DEA/New York and the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York announced the unsealing of an indictment against eight high-ranking leaders of the Wa State Army (UWSA) -- a 16,000 member organization that controls a heroin producing region in eastern Myanmar (Burma). The UWSA is one of the largest heroin producing and trafficking organizations in the world and produced more than 180 metric tons of opium in 2004, and transported more than a ton of heroin (street value of $1 billion) into New York and the United States. Additionally, approximately 12,000 methamphetamine tablets labeled with the UWSA logo have been seized from mail facilities located within the United States as a result of the investigation.


Utah

Methamphetamine is the primary drug threat throughout Utah. Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations dominate the distribution of methamphetamine, most of which is produced in Mexico and southern California. The methamphetamine supplied by these organizations has increased in purity in recent years.

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Over the past four years, there has been a decline in methamphetamine labs in Utah. This is attributed to a number of factors, including strict precursor legislation (that was passed by the Utah Legislature in 2000), community awareness and education campaigns, and aggressive law enforcement efforts. Currently, most labs discovered in Utah are small (as measured by the amount of product made per cook) and rudimentary, compared to super-labs that were the norm several years ago. Despite the dramatic reduction in illegal clandestine labs, methamphetamine remains the drug of choice throughout Utah.


California

Methamphetamine is the primary drug threat in California. Mexican organizations continue to dominate the production and distribution of high-quality meth, while a secondary trafficking group, composed primarily of Caucasians, operates small, unsophisticated laboratories. Clandestine laboratories can be found in any location: high density residential neighborhoods, sparsely populated rural areas, remote desert locations in the southern portions of California, and the forested areas in northern California. In recent years, there has been a decrease in the number of meth labs seized in California and an increase in the number of meth labs just south of the border in Mexico. Rural areas in the Central Valley are the source of much of the meth produced in California and seized elsewhere. Regardless, there has not been a decrease in the availability of methamphetamine originating from (or transshipped through) California and seized elsewhere in the U.S. Within California itself, Hispanics and Caucasians are the almost exclusive consumers of meth. Purity levels of meth have ranged from a low of ten percent to a high of 100 percent purity. As the supply of pseudoephedrine from Canada has diminished after successful law enforcement operations, there has been a noticeable increase in pseudoephedrine and ephedrine seized that originated from China.


Hunting the Great White Buffalo

Iowa is a land of rolling plains and farmland. It may sound pretty bleak, but I wouldn't have it any other way. You see, those farms keep this state going. No, I'm not talking about agriculture; those farms keep the underworld going here. For it is on those rolling fields that we hunt the great white buffalo, watching for them, creeping to them, and then killing them. These Great White Buffalo are no Midwest folklore; they are real and everywhere, in the form of anhydrous ammonia tanks. This chemical is a crucial ingredient in our claim to fame: Methamphetamine Capital of the World.

Anhydrous Meth is one of the two most popular forms of meth in this town. Sure we get that crystal, red phosphorus, and all that, but not enough. This city is ruled by two variations on meth. The first and biggest is Mexican Meth brought in from Mexican drug cartels similar to the ones seen in "Traffic." This is weak tweak, it is way cheaper so you get a lot more, but it is weak so you have to do a lot more, but when there ain't nothin' else you take what you can get, right?

Then there is the Anhydrous Meth made and slanged right here in Iowa by way too many people to count. It seems like everyone and their mom knows the recipe now.

By onepercent. From www.totse.com


Maryland

Methamphetamine is not in high demand nor is it widely available in the state of Maryland. Although clandestine methamphetamine laboratories have been seized in the state in the past few years, one of which was large enough to receive classification by EPIC as a "super-lab," the overall problem is minimal. Drug users in western Maryland, near West Virginia, and young adults involved in the cities' rave scenes are the primary audiences for methamphetamine.


Missouri

Both Mexican and locally produced methamphetamine continue to be available throughout the state. Generally, locally produced methamphetamine is of higher potency than that imported from Mexico. The continuing proliferation of small toxic laboratories throughout Missouri continues to put a severe strain on the resources of law enforcement. High-purity crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," has become increasingly available in the Kansas City area.


New Jersey

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), there were over 155 emergency department mentions associated with methamphetamine in the state of New Jersey. According to source information, methamphetamine is gaining in popularity in the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, area because cocaine is scarce. Intelligence and source information continues to indicate that Filipino traffickers are importing large amounts of methamphetamine from Mexico and the Philippines. The methamphetamine is converted to "ice" in the Los Angeles, California, area and then transported to the New York/New Jersey area via motor vehicle. Ice is also being shipped through various mail and parcel services.


South Carolina

While methamphetamine is available across South Carolina, investigations indicate that there is a growing abuse of the drug. Methamphetamine distributed in the state is normally obtained from sources of supply in California, and in some cases, from northern Georgia (Atlanta). The number of clandestine laboratory seizures in South Carolina continues to increase.

Source: DEA State Factsheets, www.dea.gov/pubs/state_factsheets.html


Emerging Markets?

William Zule told attendees of the First National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis that banning one class of meth precursors had forced the adoption of new production methods utilizing ephedrine, which anyone with skill and access to certain household materials could accomplish. Paradoxically, this new version of methamphetamine is actually more potent per gram than the speed produced by the earlier methods. As cold remedies containing ephedrine come under increased regulation, many fear the unintended consequence will be a shift to imported methamphetamine, distributed by existing channels for handling cocaine and heroin. If this happens, it is likely that methamphetamine will be marketed to inner city consumers, thus spreading the meth "epidemic" to a new level.




  
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This article was provided by Gay Men's Health Crisis. It is a part of the publication GMHC Treatment Issues. Visit GMHC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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