Comments Off on Crystal Methamphetamine From Mexico In the Upper Ohio Valley

WHEELING – Consider this: over the past 12 months, the illicit drug of choice in the Northern Panhandle has gone from prescription pain pills to heroin and now … to crystal meth.

Meth that’s being manufactured in Mexico is increasingly making its way into the Upper Ohio Valley, U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said. He attributes the upward trend in crystal meth to a heightened supply and demand environment nurtured by an influx of out-of-state workers.632088_1

“There has been an explosion of crystal meth in Brooke and Hancock counties,” he said. “Generally, there appears to be a demand from people who come to West Virginia to work.”

He said one of the short-term effects of meth is decreased fatigue and increased activity and wakefulness.

“It leads to more physical activity and they are able to work longer hours than workers who are not using it,” he said.

Ihlenfeld said Mexican crystal meth is being mass produced in factory-like settings.

 “In the end, we are seeing fewer people making meth locally and more people are buying it already made,” he said.

A January report published by the El Paso, Texas Intelligence Center of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows heroin seizures along the U.S./Mexican border have nearly tripled since 2009, while meth seizures have quintupled. Meth seizures have also far outnumbered those for cocaine and marijuana.

The fact meth is being mass-produced in factory settings makes drug cartels less concerned with shipments being caught, simply because so much is being made available.

Ihlenfeld said the Mexican meth is leading to a drop in local meth manufacturing. Also contributing to that decline are new safeguards concerning the sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

“We have done a good job of making it more difficult to manufacture meth,” he said. “A major component of any meth operation is a steady flow of pseudoephedrine, often found in over-the-counter cold medicines. Now, people buying these products must show ID and that information is put into the NPLEx System that tracks purchases.”

The National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx, is a real-time electronic logging system used by pharmacies and law enforcement to track sales of over-the-counter cold and allergy medications containing precursors to the illegal drug, methamphetamine.

“The system will flag customers who make multiple purchases of pseudoephedrine-based products,” he said.

Ihlenfeld said the people who make meth are known as “cooks,” and those who gather ingredients are called “smurfs.” The smurfs typically are paid by getting a share of the manufactured meth.

He said the average street cost of meth in the northern district of West Virginia is $100-$200 for one gram; and there are 453 grams in one pound.

Ihlenfeld said the most meth ever found by his office recently brought a conviction in Federal Court in Elkins.

During a December traffic stop in Wardensville, police found Noel Barrera Silva, a 25-year-old foreign national living in Moorefield, W.Va., with four pounds of crystal meth, which could have a street value of up about $300,000, depending upon supply and demand.

Ihlenfeld said some short-term effects of meth, in addition to the wakefulness, include euphoria and rush, decreased appetite, increased respiration, cardiovascular problems and hyperthermia. Many meth addicts also have what’s known as “meth mouth” – severe tooth decay and loss of teeth, as well as tooth fracture, acid erosion, and other oral problems potentially symptomatic of extended use of the drug.

Crystal meth can be smoked with a glass pipe, swallowed, injected or snorted.—.html

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