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Report: Meth Seizures Up At Border Crossings

Report: Meth Seizures Up At Border Crossings
Report: Meth Seizures Up At Border Crossings
GUEST:Laura Duffy, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of California

So San Diego's County methamphetamine strikeforce report card is out and the numbers are bad. Arrest and seizures of math are up from 2010 while prices are down. The drug is more potent and easy to get and highly addictive. Earlier in the day I talked with US attorney Laura death about how production of math has changed in recent years and the effects it has had in the health and safety of the community. I start by asking whether Lon Foss -- enforcement was caught off guard by this recent jump. Know we weren't caught off guard. What we have seen is the Mexican tribes track -- drug trafficking organizations have really implemented a major shift in their marketing strategies. They are emphasizing the trafficking and market creation of Mexican medicine -- methamphetamine and heroin. There deemphasizing marijuana. The problem we are having is the methamphetamine we are dealing with today is being produced in pharmaceutical like labs south of the border and is being produced and shoot quantities -- thousands of pounds of meth per month is being produced and really high quality, high purity reach -- 96% plus purity rates. Are having a hard time with is getting a handle on the production and the distribution for that methamphetamine in the United States. So something I've been concerned about for the last few years. I've seen our numbers climbing up. I seen our seizures climbing up. What we've seen from the enforcement side importer side, is unfortunately, reflected in the abuse and addiction report card that we are seeing from the methamphetamine strikeforce that came out yesterday. Hospital visits up 141%, drug seizures up 129% -- do failure starting to get a handle on this? You kind of understand -- no words coming from, what are you able to say about whether you're not you're able to actually stop it? I think there are a few things here. From an enforcement standpoint, the seizures happen up remarkably in San Diego at the port of entry. CVP has had it 300% increase in their seizures. DEA reports for 2014, California has seized 5% more methamphetamine than other border states combined. We are seeing increased enforcement activity, but because we are seeing such high production, the markets are just being flooded with this. I think what we have come to understand in law enforcement, is that enforcement alone cannot and will not solve our County and what is become a national problem. So we are becoming as focused on prevention and outreach as we have been on enforcement. That's where we are starting to put our resources. We have been working with our agency partners as well as community organizations in trying to develop a more robust strategy in tackling this methamphetamine problem. The goal being, trying to obtain an appreciable reduction in the availability of methamphetamine and the abuse of methamphetamine. For this office, were looking at it between now and January 2017 which is the end of this administration. I know I'll be sitting in this chair at least that long. So we are focusing on not only intensified enforcement, it also our reach, prevention, two young adults and families, education to health care professionals and those who will be encountering individuals with meth addiction and abuse problems. So what we know about the users themselves? I know with heroin, it's a matter of want to have been addicted to heroin, you are likely to be susceptible for the rest of your life -- even if you're in recovery. Are we seeing a lot of old methamphetamine addicts coming back now that this product is much more pure than it had been quick Interesting you should ask that question. We are seeing a couple different things. We are seeing troubling increases with women -- arrestee specifically who are reporting and tested positive for methamphetamine in their system. That number is as high as 46% of female arrestees have methamphetamine abuse issues. We are also seeing something we have kind of coined in law enforcement, the silver tsunami which is older members of our community who have either histories of using methamphetamine or who have gone from other drugs into methamphetamine. And then methamphetamine that they are using today is a such a higher purity level and so much more potent than they may be used some time ago. Or they used for the first time that their systems are not able to handle it. With respect to methamphetamine death, we are seeing heart related deaths and trauma -- what might be viewed as natural death, but people are dying at a much younger rate because of their methamphetamine abuse. The deaths are in between the ages of 40 and 60. Individuals whose bodies are not able to sustain the damage that this methamphetamine is causing which is the chronic and intense. When it comes to these users, are we talking about people who are switching from other drugs because this drug methamphetamine, is now becoming much more prevalent and it cheaper now? Or are we talking about a lot of new users flooding in quick We're talking about a little bit of both unfortunately. Overseeing is the availability is just so wide and the prices are just so cheap. Or dealing with right now is methamphetamine that is the highest quality -- quality translates into purity and the lowest prices we've ever seen. Was $8000-$2000 per pound -- 8000 -- $8000-$10,000 per pound. Is now down to $2800. When you break that down into street use quantities it even cheaper than that. Is something individuals who are drug abusers can get. It's widely available. As a report card reflected, availability measures 90% of those who were spoken to say it is easy to get. So we have some of that. It's available and out there and easy to get. We have individuals who are -- it is the primary drug of choice. That number is also going up. Are you able to at all work with Mexico on this? Back in the day, you targeted the supply and the pharmaceuticals that people using. You change the laws. And that sort of squeeze down supply. What are you doing now with Mexico quick We are continuing to work with our partners in Mexico in one of the primary eradication objectives of our strategy is to work with our Mexican counterparts in stopping the precursor chemicals that are coming to these labs. Stopping the production at these labs. The substances that are being imported into Mexico are coming from Asian chemical distributors. It is difficult. Is difficult for us to intervene in a major way in the process. We do have some investigations that we are working here in the southern district of California. We are targeting those chemical producers. A lot of the chemicals that are being imported are illegally imported into Mexico and are chemicals that have commercial legitimate uses. So that is making it even more difficult. Are we saying that we had success back in the [ Indiscernible ]. This time it is here to stay. I don't -- I hope that's not the case. We are certainly working toward that not being the case. This is a shift in the work we are doing with Mexico definitely. It is focusing on those -- what we interfere -- refer to as, super labs. Mainstream pharmaceutical labs in Mexico. Is working the chemicals that come into those labs and working aback to the Asian chemical distributors. A number of those businesses are legitimate businesses. Is following that trail and working Metro back. And really focusing -- working that trail back. And stopping the flow. The Asian chemical distributors, from what I've seen thus far, they are not making the huge profits that the cartels are making in the production of methamphetamine. So when you can get to the businesses that are legitimately producing these chemicals and those chemicals are being diverted or shipped into Mexico under false labeling. Oftentimes, it's not necessarily those business owners once they make that sale. We can get to them and identify them and intervene in that part of the distribution chain. I think that's where we will have some success. I will end on -- that's what you can do from the supply-side. What can be done for these people who have become addicted? What we do for the users and those who are -- what will you do to get people off meth quick That is our major focus. The prevention outreach. Law enforcement has begun to really get involved in directed in this district at a young adults. Adults who are being recruited by trafficking organizations to smuggle methamphetamine across the border. HSI, CBP and my office is working with elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in community centers and talking about real-life stories of people being arrested and the consequences of having an rest under record. How cartels go about recruiting young people and what to do if you are approached by somebody. We are working in our schools and our community organizations in that way. We are also working in a real innovative project with the San Diego playwright project. With local groups like say San Diego and identifying abusers and addicts who have made it through to recovery. Fictionalizing their stories and presenting them and programs and in theater productions and getting those out to women in prisons and schools and universities. That type of thing. A lot of this is going to be outreach and trying to convince people to -- the path they will be on. US Atty. Laura Duffy, thank you so much for being on. Right thank you.

Report: Meth Seizures Up At Border Crossings
Methamphetamine is cheaper, more available and more potent than ever before, according to San Diego County's latest "meth report card."

Methamphetamine is cheaper, more available and more potent than ever before, according to San Diego County's latest "meth report card."

Officials said meth was once manufactured in the United States, but is now coming from so-called “super labs” across the Mexican border. They’re staffed by university-educated chemists, and supplied by industrial chemical manufacturers based in Asia. This has led to the United States getting the purist and lowest priced meth to date, officials said.

There has been a 300 percent increase in the amount of meth seized at all of California's ports of entry between fiscal 2009 and 2014, according to Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. attorney Laura Duffy said San Diego’s location next to the border makes it especially vulnerable.

“I believe that one of our primary eradication goals needs to be to help our Mexican government officials disrupt the production of methamphetamine that is coming out of these labs,” Duffy said.

The Methamphetamine Strike Force Report Card, released Monday, uses nine indicators to measure the meth problem in the county. These include meth-related deaths, emergency room visits, arrests and border seizures.

Methamphetamine Strike Force 2015 Report Card

Indicator 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Meth-related deaths 157 171 217 267 262
Positive meth tests for adult arrestees 27% 30% 36% 43% 45%
Positive meth tests for juvenile arrestees 8% 4% 4% 10% 13%
Number of arrests for meth sales, possession 5,139 4,869 5,190 6,658 6,598
Meth seizures at port of entry 2,560 kg 3,046 kg 3,585 kg 5,729 kg 5,862 kg
Price per ounce $1,200-$1,800 $800-$1,100 $900-$1,200 $400-$1,200 $400-$1,200

Meth-related deaths have decreased from 267 to 262 between 2013 and 2014, but the 2014 death toll is two-thirds higher than five years ago, according to a news release on the report card.

Dr. Danielle Douglas treats meth users in the emergency room at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa. She said the county has to put more resources toward prevention.

“I believe that this country, this county is not serving our patients with psychological disease as well as it could be. And often these patients turn to drugs to alleviate some of the symptoms of their psychological disease, whether that be depression or schizophrenia,” Douglas said.

For treatment referrals or to anonymously report meth-related crime call the meth hotline at 1-877-NO-2-METH or go to

Web producer Brooke Ruth contributed to this report.