Comments Off on EDITORIAL: Local Methamphetamine labs on decline as Mexican drugs flood Rome and Floyd County

It’s good news and bad news for Rome and Floyd County in the battle to curb methamphetamine labs here.

First, the good news: the efforts of law enforcement to find and destroy home-grown meth-cooking operations of significant size in this area have been very successful. That, combined with stricter regulation and monitoring of ingredients used by labs, has caused a decline in local meth production.

Now users have gravitated to the “one pot cook method,” says Barry McElroy, assistant commander of the Rome-Floyd Metro Task Force. This involves making a small quantity of meth in a soft drink bottle and then tossing the bottle away. In the past two years, McElroy’s unit has been called to the sites of no more than two labs and they were not full-sized, active operations.

The home-grown labs are very dangerous, setting up a scenario for damaging, life-threatening explosions. Says McElroy: “People can drop dead just from breathing in the gases produced when it’s cooked.” On top of that, a meth lab can contaminate an entire house and the ground outside if it is used for dumping chemicals. So toxic is the meth-cooking process that the best solution for a contaminated house is to demolish it.

The bad news is that Mexico is more than taking up the slack in local meth output. As McElroy reports: “The Mexican cartels are flooding this area with cheap meth, and people are buying that.” Mexico has numerous large labs and easy access to ingredients. As a result, “Mexican meth seems to have killed the need for labs around here,” the Task Force officer explains.

The same thing is happening across the country. Mexican drug cartels are suspected of producing up to 90 percent of the meth available in this country and shipping it across the border — together with other drugs including cocaine and marijuana, according to the former chief of global enforcement for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Dave Gaddis. The U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego, California, reported that seizures of methamphetamine jumped 43 percent in fiscal 2014, accounting for about 48 percent of all the meth seized by the Patrol nationwide.

Nationwide, there is a dwindling supply of homegrown meth because of more effective law enforcement. Yet even when such labs were cooking at a much higher level around the country, officers would find only 10 ounces to 16 ounces of meth at a time. Contrast that with Mexico, where the cartel manufactures 500 kilos at a time.

It probably means more bad news. Former DEA officer Gaddis says if prices go down as a result of the market being flooded, “because of the nature and violence of that particular drug, we’re going to see emergency room visitations increase” as will drug overdoses and homicides.

And that means our law enforcement officers will be facing new challenges in coping with more widespread trafficking in one of the worst drugs ever made. This is a time for vigilance not only by law enforcement officers but by the public, which must play an active role in informing authorities about any activities involving the sale or use of illegal drugs.

Comments are closed.