Author: Charles Frank

Meth Use by State 2024

what is the meth capital of the world

Evansville was once described as the meth capital of the world, although the number of incidents has greatly decreased. The top counties in Indiana with meth lab seizures were Delaware, Vigo, Knox, Bartholomew, and Jackson. Meth seizures in Illinois have increased from 72.9kg in 2017 to 289.9kg in 2018, according to the DEA. A majority of the meth in Illinois is trafficked through by Mexican drug cartels. Underground chemists are continually seeking to develop more potent and addictive varieties of them. The use of mind-altering substances by humans is age-old, but we have entered a new era.

Similar partnerships, arrangements, and retail innovations have transformed regional drug markets across the U.S. But toward the end of Chávez’s Bakersfield assignment, in 2004, the cooks and workers who’d been coming up from Mexico began to vanish. In California, law enforcement had made things hard; the job was getting too risky, the chemicals too hard to come by. The meth-cook migration would accelerate after Chávez left the state in 2004.

  1. Aside from being the first line of defense against the production and sale of meth, police forces and state authorities also implement community-based prevention programs.
  2. Methamphetamine, also called meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain.
  3. Ephedrine meth tended to damage people gradually, over years.
  4. A district attorney in Athens, Tenn., waved off the label that year for his jurisdiction.
  5. Even many years later, when I spoke with him, Barrera didn’t know how the drug he was using had changed and spread, or why.

Drug use is increasing both in the US and all over the world. Afghanistan may not be the world’s leading producer of opium for much longer. The ruling Taliban have come out strongly against the opium trade, and have banned the cultivation of poppies in the country. However, completely stamping out the industry may prove challenging.

The drug is often cheaper than prescription and other illegal substances, making it attractive to those with limited financial resources. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 1.6 million people reported using meth in the past year. A recent report from the United Nations drug agency reveals that Afghanistan is now the world’s leading producer of methamphetamine.

‘Afghanistan has become the new meth capital of the world,’ UN warns

They set up many in California’s rural Central Valley—Eduardo Chávez’s territory—making use of an existing network of traffickers among the truckers and migrant farmworkers that stretched up from San Diego. At one bust, agents found a man in protective garments with an air tank on his back. He turned out to be a veterinarian from Michoacán who said he came up for four-month stints to teach the workers to cook.

what is the meth capital of the world

Meth was the drug that Bozenko analyzed most in the early years of his job. Large quantities of it were coming up out of Mexico, where traffickers had industrialized production, and into the American Southwest. A Japanese researcher had first altered the ephedrine molecule to synthesize crystal methamphetamine in 1919.

How Is the Meth Crisis Being Addressed?

Alt-newspaper New Times Los Angeles yanked it back to Riverside County in 1997. Contesting the designation that year was Florida’s Lakeland Ledger, which put it in Polk County, Fla. Meth use has reached crisis levels in many cities throughout the U.S. The consequences of addiction, violence, crime, and poverty have a devastating impact on communities. The drug is a highly addictive substance and can cause physical dependence.

Working through all the chemicals in the plant, by Bozenko’s estimation, the lab could have produced 900 metric tons of methamphetamine. Against a wall stood three 1,000-liter reactors, two stories tall. Hundreds of those bags contained a substance neither Bozenko nor Toske had ever thought could be used to make P2P. Bozenko often consulted a book that outlined chemicals that might serve as precursors to making methamphetamine, but this particular substance wasn’t in it.

How Big Is the Meth Problem?

The field seems to breed folks whose every waking minute is spent puzzling over chemical reactions. Bozenko, a garrulous man with a wide smile, worked in the DEA lab during the day and taught chemistry at a local university in the evenings. “Chemist by day, chemist by night,” his Twitter bio once read.

The Meth Capital of the World

In place after place, they made alliances with local dealers to introduce their product. From 2015 to 2019, the Mexican military raided some 330 meth labs in Sinaloa alone. But arrests were rare, according to a person involved in targeting the labs. Far from being a deterrent, the raids showed that no one would pay a personal price, and more people entered the trade as a result. At one point in 2019, DEA intelligence held that, despite all the raids, at least 70 meth labs were operating in Sinaloa, each with the capacity to make tons of meth with every cook. About five years after the Tlajomulco lab exploded, in June 2011, Mexican authorities discovered a massive P2P meth lab in the city of Querétaro, just a few hours north of Mexico City.

All you had to do was tweak the ephedrine molecule, and doing that required little more than following a recipe. Among the drawbacks of the P2P method is that it produces two kinds of methamphetamine. One is known as d-methamphetamine, which is the stuff that makes you high. The other is l-methamphetamine, which makes the heart race but does little to the brain; it is waste product. Most cooks would likely want to get rid of the l-meth if they knew what it was. But separating the two is tricky, beyond the skills of most clandestine chemists.

At the MORE Center, a Louisville clinic set up to treat pain-pill and heroin addicts, patients started coming in on meth. Before the Prieto-Greenhill connection, only two of counselor Jennifer Grzesik’s patients were using meth. Within three years, almost 90 percent of new patients coming to the clinic had meth in their drug screen. “I don’t remember having any homeless people in my caseload before 2016,” she told me.

‘I Don’t Know That I Would Even Call It Meth Anymore’

Even so, Bozenko couldn’t have anticipated just how widely the meth epidemic would reach some 15 years later, or how it would come to interact with the opioid epidemic, which was then gaining force. And he couldn’t know how strongly it would contribute to related scourges now very much evident in America—epidemics of mental illness and homelessness that year by year are growing worse. In the fall of 2006, law enforcement on the southwest border of the United States seized some crystal methamphetamine. In due course, a five-gram sample of that seizure landed on the desk of a 31-year-old chemist named Joe Bozenko, at the Drug Enforcement Administration lab outside Washington, D.C.

The report states that Afghanistan’s increasing meth production poses a growing threat to the health and security of the nation and the surrounding region. This surge in meth supply could lead to addiction problems and disrupt the synthetic drug market. California has the sixth-highest number of meth seizure incidents of any state. Meth overdoses killed 232 people in 2017 in the San Joaquin Valley. The Bakersfield Police Department reported that, aside from marijuana, meth made up about 75% of all drugs seized in the city in 2018.

They were more interested in business deals and alliances than in the vengeance and endless shoot-outs so common to the previous generation of smugglers, who had trafficked mostly in marijuana and cocaine. The Amezcuas were the first Mexican traffickers to understand the profit potential of a synthetic drug, and the first to tap the global economy for chemical connections. Different chemically than it was a decade ago, the drug is creating a wave of severe mental illness and worsening America’s homelessness problem.

To address the meth crisis, law enforcement, and other agencies have implemented various strategies. BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor. An anonymous health official in the country, speaking to the AP, disclosed that approximately 20,000 Afghans are in hospitals due to drug addiction, with crystal meth being a predominant factor. Afghanistan’s abundance of the ephedra plant, which is not found in major meth-producing countries like Myanmar and Mexico, makes it a convenient source for meth production. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released this report on Sunday. According to the report, meth in Afghanistan is mainly created using the ephedra plant, which grows naturally, or substances legally available within the country.