City leaders plan to bring meth use to the forefront

Law enforcement and health officials across the United States have called the spread of little white crystals known as "crystal meth" an epidemic. This year, Carson City officials have tagged the drug as their No. 1 priority.

While local, state and federal authorities continue to try to bust dealers and smugglers, Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, Sheriff Ken Furlong and District Attorney Noel Waters are trying to bring the specter of methamphetamine to the forefront of civic discussion this year with a public-awareness campaign.

The city is hosting a public workshop next month to take the first step in their campaign against the drug: identifying meth-related issues and trends in Carson City. The workshop is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. April 13 at Carson High School.

"Carson City faces an enemy of significant proportion and strength," Teixeira, Furlong and Waters wrote in a letter to prospective participants in the workshop. "This enemy knows no boundaries, prejudices, no gender, race, creed or color. Nor does this enemy recognize economic or cultural status.

"This enemy is the use and distribution of the illegal drug methamphetamine."

In much of the United States, labs manufacturing the drug from household chemicals and over-the-counter medicines increased exponentially over the last decade as meth's popularity has grown. The only way to keep track of them, however, is by the number of busts - 10,061 in 2003 and 8,023 in 2002.

Last year was one of the first decreases in the number of reported lab busts in the country. Seizures dropped by about 6 percent to 9,491. In Nevada, the number of lab busts has been steadily dropping for years, from 284 in 2000 to just 50 in 2004.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the decline of lab busts in Nevada and the rest of the nation isn't necessarily an indicator of less meth use in the state. It's more an indicator of where the drug is coming from.

While differe├Ćnt reporting requirements from state to state may affect this year's numbers some, Reno-area DEA Agent Mark Snyder said there is an increase of drugs being manufactured in Mexico.

Mexican "super labs" supply the bulk of meth in Nevada, Snyder said. The DEA defines a "super lab" as one that can produce 10 pounds of meth or more in 24 hours.

No matter where the drug is coming from, it's obvious to city officials that its still here and they want residents to know it.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at cmcconnell@nevadaappeal.com.

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