Comments Off on Methamphetamine Addiction Pipeline In South Dakota Flows From Mexico

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Whenever we tell you about a big meth bust, it’s easy to think the drug is making a comeback in South Dakota. But the sad reality is meth never went away. Laws limiting access to over-the-counter meds used to make meth have helped put the squeeze on illegal labs here. But dealers are simply finding another source by going global. It’s a meth pipeline that extends from South of the Border to South Dakota.

Toni Harmon of Lower Brule first tried meth, on a whim, a year and a half ago.

“Two girls came and asked me if I wanted to try it and I said sure,” Harmon said.

Harmon’s spur-of -the moment choice, quickly turned into a full-blown addiction.

“I went from smoking it to using the needle and became very addicted to it, got into legal trouble through that,” Harmon said.

Harmon’s legal trouble landed her in the Hughes County Jail. That’s where she spent three months detoxing from meth.

“Waking up with cold sweats, depression, I was really sick, I lost so much weight when I was using I couldn’t eat at first and it was all kinds of things my body was going through, Harmon said.

Harmon went from jail to the Glory House in Sioux Falls, where’s she’s in the midst of a four-month treatment program.

“This is the first time I’ve been in meth treatment, and I really like it. I’m in an intensive meth treatment and I really enjoy it and I enjoy my classes and I’m getting a lot out of it,” Harmon said.

Meth’s iron grip on users is keeping demand high and the waiting list of addicts is long.

“I’ve been doing the meth treatment since 2006 here. Once and a while the numbers fluctuate but generally, I have a waiting list for treatment,” Glory House Meth Counselor Sally Holiday said.

Laws designed to limit access to meth ingredients have made it tough for large labs to thrive in the state. Smaller operations, the so-called “one-pot” labs don’t produce enough meth to meet demand, so dealers reach out to super-labs in Mexico.

“It just comes down to the pseudoephedrine laws that we have, not only in South Dakota, but across the country. They don’t have those types of restrictions in Mexico.  The cartels that are running the shows down there, they know that there’s a lot of money to be made in it and they can produce huge quantities that we’re not seeing anywhere in the states anymore,” Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.

South Dakota’s meth connection with Mexico involves a sophisticated network of smuggling that spans several states.

“We hear stories about tunnels across the border. There are people that will fly it over, or throw it over the border. Once it crosses the border, those big quantities get divvied up into smaller quantities and head out across the nation and some of that ends up here,” Clemens said.

Nowadays, South Dakota law enforcement has to cast a much wider net to stop dealers and stem the flow of meth from Mexico.

“A lot of that can be information-sharing and so if we get information from one drug bust about drugs that happened in another area, we can pass that onto other agencies and that happens on the other end as well,” Clemens said.

Trying to seal-off the Mexico to South Dakota meth pipeline is a far-reaching, long distance border battle that strikes close to home for addicts like Harmon. She completes her treatment in May and wants to return to Lower Brule, but knows the easy access to meth on the reservation will test the coping skills she’s learning at the Glory House.

“My goal is to go home and live a sober life, off of meth, off of drugs, everything that I was doing before,” Harmon said.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, more than 70-percent of meth in the country is smuggled in from Mexico.

Clemens says marijuana remains the top drug trafficked in Sioux Falls. That’s followed by prescription meds, then meth.








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