A record amount of methamphetamine was recovered in Minnesota in 2016, doubling since 2015 and increasing more than 484 percent since 2009. Rural areas like the Iron Range feel the brunt of this epidemic.
As Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen said, the recent meth seizure rates are “off the charts.”
But as eye-popping as the numbers are, the impacts to communities are even more shocking. A drug problem tears at the fabric of people’s lives and a city’s perception.
Hundreds of children each year in St. Louis County alone are ripped away from their families because of drugs, placed in a foster care system that is currently bursting at the seams. People go to jail. People die.
The Iron Range received an up-close and personal, high-profile look at the stakes involved in this off-the-charts issue last year. Jaysen Greenwood, 20, was murdered in May in a Hibbing apartment shared by three friends, all entangled in the ugly details of his death.
Court records describe a drug-fueled rage that led 19-year-old Dylan Gilbertson to kill his friend. He’s going to prison for more than 30 years, set to exit as middle-aged man. Sean Powers, also 19, will likely spend a few years in prison for his role and a juvenile female faces prison time if she breaks probation.
The lives of these four young people paid the cost of methamphetamine’s grip on a person’s psyche, a sad reality as one will never have the chance to fulfill his life dreams.
But as localized and tragic as their story is, it won’t be the first or last of its kind as state and local authorities try to get their hands around a socially destabilizing epidemic.
More people will commit senseless crimes, more will die from overdoses, more will go to prison and more children will bounce through an overloaded foster care system.