Meth the trend across country

Carson City's goal to put a stop to methamphetamine use and sales is one shared by most of the country, according to a report released last week from the Department of Justice.

Methamphetamine use nationwide increased over the past year, most notably in the Northeast where crack cocaine rules, the National Drug Threat Assessment 2005 states.

The 202-page booklet provided to Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong is an assessment of the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs.

"The investment we are making here in fighting this is part of an epidemic going across the U.S.," Furlong said. "Easily, half this country identifies with the problems associated with methamphetamine."

Data indicates that more than 1.3 million people age 12 or older used methamphetamine in 2003. According to a nationwide survey of law enforcement agencies, the threat associated with methamphetamine trafficking and abuse has increased sharply since 2002 and now exceeds that of any other drug.

For the first time, methamphetamine is the greatest threat nationwide for 39.6 percent of state and local law enforcement, surpassing the threat of cocaine, including crack, at 35.6 percent.

According to the assessment, methamphetamine production appears to have increased sharply in Mexico since 2002 because Mexican criminal groups producing the drug in the United States are having greater difficulty obtaining bulk quantities of pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient. With the difficulty getting the ingredients, more methamphetamine was seized at points of entry in Arizona in 2003 than at points of entry in California or Texas.

For years, the East Coast has been the hub of cocaine trafficking. Crack cocaine use is rampant in the cities there and Furlong's fear is that methamphetamine will become as debilitating here.

"A crack user will sell her baby for dope, a meth user will take her kids along to watch while she gets high," he said. "I think the East Coast would welcome methamphetamine as a way to stop the crack. But either way, drug users take a very heavy toll on our society."

The distribution of ice methamphetamine, a highly pure, addictive form once limited to Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands and Samoa, is now pervasive throughout the Pacific and Southwest regions, according to the assessment.

Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco are the primary market areas for meth - all of these cities within a day's drive from Northern Nevada.

Of the law enforcement agencies surveyed in Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada, 92.3 percent identified meth at the biggest threat. The Pacific region, which includes Nevada, has the highest abuse and use in the country, with methamphetamine as readily available as marijuana.

"This assessment mirrors the problem we see in Carson City," Furlong said.

- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.

On the Net

To read the full report, National Drug Threat Assessment 2005, go to:


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