Comments Off on Funding needed to combat influx of Methamphetamine crossing the Mexican border

In January, Customs and Border Protection agents in San Clemente found 23 pounds of meth hidden under the back seat of an SUV. Street value: $236,000.

Six months earlier, a vehicle stop near Temecula led to almost 70 pounds of meth hidden under the driver-side carpet. Street value: $683,000.

In 2014 alone, border agents found 132 pounds of liquid meth concealed in the gas tank of a pickup truck, 14 pounds of meth sealed in cans of hominy — they even discovered meth hidden inside wheels of cheese.

A side effect of the success law enforcement has had reducing domestic production is a dramatic increase in meth coming across the border from Mexico.

Between 2009 and 2014, CBP reported a 300 percent increase in the amount of meth seized at California’s ports of entry. This increase is acutely felt in the San Diego region.

In 2013, San Diego field agents seized nearly 15,000 pounds of meth crossing the border — this accounted for 63 percent of meth seized at all ports of entry nationwide.

And the effects are dire. Over the past five years, the San Diego County medical examiner ruled that meth was a factor in 950 deaths.

The Drug Enforcement Administration now estimates that 90 percent of meth consumed in the United States is produced in Mexico.

Criminal groups south of the border buy precursor chemicals from China and then oversee both manufacturing and distribution of meth, which leads to higher profits.

The result is a deadly combination: more meth with a higher potency at a lower cost. CBP reports that a pound of meth is one-third of the cost of a pound of cocaine in San Diego.

To combat this destructive drug, we need to pursue three key strategies: ensure law enforcement has the resources it needs, raise awareness about the dangers of this drug, and increase access to prevention and treatment programs.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, known as HIDTA, helps create task forces that work to dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

These task forces are made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and are particularly valuable in regions where meth use and seizures are highest. San Diego is one such high-use area, where 83 percent of those surveyed for the annual Meth Strike Force Report Card said meth is easy to obtain.

In 2012, the Southwest Border HIDTA, California Region, which includes San Diego, dismantled 50 drug trafficking organizations.

In 2015, this program received $245 million. Unfortunately, the administration recommended cutting the program by 21 percent in its 2016 budget request. I believe we must fully fund this essential federal program.

The federally funded Anti-Meth Task Force program, which provides valuable resources to states most affected by meth, is another key program.

In its first year of existence, it provided California with $1 million to create a task force to combat meth trafficking and related crime. The administration recommended eliminating this program in its 2016 budget request. I disagree and will advocate to fully fund it.

Education and treatment are also key.

The San Diego Meth Strike Force reports that meth was the primary drug of choice for 34 percent of all drug treatment admissions in San Diego County. We must ensure those patients have access to the treatments they need.

One of the primary ways the federal government supports access to treatment is through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Block Grant, and it’s critical that Congress fully funds this program. The same goes for prevention efforts like the Drug Free Communities program, which are crucial to stop meth abuse before it starts.

As drug trafficking organizations adapt to U.S. laws and find new and innovative ways to produce and transport meth, it’s equally important that federal agencies coordinate a comprehensive response.

It is also important that we work with our international partners because meth is a shared problem with shared responsibilities.

Mexico is a strong partner and has taken steps to control many of the precursor chemicals used to make meth. However, as drug trafficking organizations expand their production, we must find new ways to prevent them from crossing the border. This is especially true in San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the United States.

We must also look further back in the supply chain. China is one of the largest suppliers of meth precursor chemicals, and we must redouble our efforts to encourage the Chinese government to stop these shipments.

Our legislative and law enforcement efforts have done a great deal to combat domestic meth production, but drug traffickers have adapted.

To ensure previous successes aren’t reversed, we need to address these new challenges quickly and effectively. We must prevent meth from infiltrating our borders and confront its deadly consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/18/funding-influx-meth-border/?#article-copy

 

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