Methamphetamine made in Mexico is becoming an increasing threat to the Lubbock area, law enforcement officials say.
But they say marijuana is still the most common drug found in Lubbock and the surrounding areas.
And synthetic marijuana is becoming a challenge for Lubbock police officers, according to Lubbock Police Department Sgt. Jason Lewis.
There were 1,456 reports involving narcotics in 2013 in the city, according to LPD records. In 2012, there were 1,423.
Lewis said hydroponic marijuana is trending in the city because it is easy to grow. He said the type of drug is more potent.
“It’s often that we catch people growing it in their closet or just different places,” he said. “It’s not as dangerous as trying to cook meth; you can blow yourself up pretty easy.”
He said the homegrown marijuana is typically for personal use.
Lewis said he believes Colorado’s legalization of marijuana may bring more of the drug to the area.
“I would think that that would be the easiest place for them to come from.”
Lt. Bryan Taylor with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office said methamphetamine seizures are increasing in the county.
In 2012, about 102.9 grams of meth were seized in Lubbock County. This year, deputies seized 836.6.
The drug is manufactured in Mexico and comes in from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, according to Sgt. Bryan Witt with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
He said the Metroplex area is a hub for drugs smuggled into Texas from Mexico via Arizona, the El Paso area or the Rio Grande Valley area.
According to Lewis, synthetic marijuana, which the City Council banned in February, is presenting its own challenges to officers.
Last year police officers responded to about 270 reports involving synthetic marijuana; in 2013 there were 455.
“The things that it makes people do; it is the modern day PCP,” Lewis said. “A person can take it and almost immediately become uncontrollably violent and just do abnormal things. There’s no telling what somebody will do.”
He said the drug’s effects are short-lived and it is all but impossible to find it in a person’s system.
“How does an officer know if they were under the influence of it whenever they did take it? It’s just hard to say,” he said.
Right now the drug is commonly sold under the table in smoke shops. He said undercover officers routinely conduct operations to remove it from the streets. But because the chemical composition of the drugs change it is hard to confiscate.
Officers typically confiscate the drug from people during an arrest.
The drugs pose an increasing threat to children, he said, because the drug is packaged in bright colors that make it attractive to them.
“They look like they’re packaged to appeal to children,” he said.
Lewis said narcotics arrests go hand in hand with other crimes, typically property crimes.
“A lot of burglars are meth users or they actually do it to sell the items to gain access to drugs,” he said.
Witt said oftentimes people who are the subjects of drug investigations are arrested on other crimes before investigators get enough evidence to arrest them for narcotics crimes.
He said patrol officers and investigators work together to stem drug trafficking as well as target top-ranking drug dealers to combat drug crimes.
Drug crimes are also moving from the streets to the online world and police officers are following them there, Lewis said.
“Just like anything else, it’s the same thing with prostitution, kind of everything is going that way,” he said. “Instead of carrying a pager, now you have a Facebook.”