Comments Off on Methamphetamine becoming an increasing problem in Highlands County

SEBRING — When it comes to illegal drug use and sales, methamphetamine is becoming an increasing problem in much of the United States, as well as Highlands County, an official with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office says.

“I think it’s the most significant drug problem we have,” Capt. Randy LaBelle said.

LaBelle said that increasingly during the past two years the purity of methamphetamine has increased. That’s been determined through testing done at a lab, he said.

Although not all the methamphetamine is more pure, “I think (what is coming in) is more pure than what we’ve seen in the past,” he said.

One of the factors contributing to that, he said, is that most, if not virtually all of the methamphetamine being sold in Highlands County, was made in Mexico, as opposed to some low-cost drug lab at a local residence in Highlands County, LaBelle said.

LaBelle said he believes the Mexican cartels have decided that they make more money by selling higher-quality methamphetamine, as opposed selling a more diluted drug.

It’s a double-edged sword as to the effects on the community if the methamphetamine is brought in and is more pure, as opposed to less quality methamphetamine that’s available from a lab, LaBelle said.

The small labs may produce a less potent product, but present risks of explosions and hazardous materials pollution, he said.

The other side of it is that the stronger methamphetamine only serves to worsen the effects of the drug, which leave people with paranoia and a continuing desire to get more of it, LaBelle said.

International Business Times reported earlier this year that one reason for the increase in supply of methamphetamine from the Mexican cartels is the crackdown on it in the United States, as opposed to an increase in the number of people using the drug.

While the federal government reported record seizures of the drug in 2014, the availability of the chemicals to make it in the Unites States has diminished, the publication said on its web site.

LaBelle said there’s evidence that the cartels are combining shipments of methamphetamine and marijuana. He said Atlanta is one of the hubs through which the substances pass.

While LaBelle said the drug has harmful effects on individuals, it also increases crime in the community, as people steal to get money to buy it.

“It’s by far one of the biggest contributors to property crimes that we have,” he said. “But that’s not something you’re going to read about when you pull the arrest affidavits

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