Report Finds Surge in U.S. Meth Use

Report Finds Surge in U.S. Meth Use
Posted by FoM on December 16, 1999 at 06:57:47 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: The New York Times
A surge in methamphetamine trafficking and use, particularly in the Midwest and Northwest, shows how America's national drug problem has evolved into local epidemics, according to a government report released Wednesday. 
The report by Barry McCaffrey, the administration's drug policy control chief, describes the war on drugs in 31 battlegrounds known as high intensity drug trafficking areas. From the Mexican border to the streets of New York, these areas have serious drug problems that also affect other parts of the country. ``We do not just have a national drug problem. What we really have is a series of local drug epidemics,'' McCaffrey said. At a news conference, McCaffrey said, ``Drug abuse in America today is not what it was five years ago'' but added, ``the country is still awash in high purity low-cost drugs.'' ``This is not a minority problem. This is not urban areas only,'' McCaffrey said. In the Midwest, for instance, authorities this year seized hundreds of secret drug labs. In the first half of 1999, local and federal law enforcement seized 238 meth or ``speed'' labs in Kansas, 242 in Iowa and 223 in Missouri, according to the report. David Burton of the two-year-old Midwest program said of the meth problem, ``The market appears to be stable but still at epidemic proportions. It's a little too soon to say we've turned the corner.'' In Washington state, nearly 500 illegal meth labs, a record number, are expected to be dismantled this year, the report said. That projection is proof that meth consumption is ``escalating in nearly all communities'' in the Northwest, the report said. The high trafficking areas, McCaffrey said, ``serve as catalysts for coordination of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to confront drug trafficking.'' Federal funds for the effort have risen from $25 million in 1990 to $190 million in 2000. The New York-New Jersey area remains a center for narcotics trafficking. While all drugs can be found in the area, heroin and cocaine dominate because of the profits and potential violence they generate, the report said. The demand for crack has fallen, but it is still available and being actively distributed. In Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, marijuana is ``the number one cash crop,'' with the states producing over 1.6 million outdoor marijuana plants -- over 40 percent of the nationwide total, according to the report. Since Appalachia was designated a high trafficking area last year, law enforcement agencies have made almost 2,000 arrests and destroyed nearly half a million marijuana plants. Among the 31 high trafficking areas ranging from Hawaii to New England, the report also found: --An increasing amount of Canadian grown marijuana is being smuggled into the United States and often is trade for cocaine. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimates the annual marijuana production at 800 tons. --Atlanta is the nation's major southeast distribution point for methamphetamine, which is smuggled in as a finished product from areas including California and northern Mexico. --In central Florida, heroin is an increasing problem, with the number of heroin-related deaths in the Orlando area tripling since 1994. --Chicago is a major drug trafficking hub for Mexican, Colombian and Nigerian criminal organizations, but street gangs account for most of the local drug distribution. Published: December 15, 1999Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company Related Articles:Drug Threat Growing in Northwest, White House Says-12/15/99 Meth Seizures Expose Rural Drug Epidemic - 12/15/99
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