Meth in the News
Professor Nicholas E Goeders
As regular readers of this Meth in the News column know, I have devoted significant time and energy spreading the word about the dangers of methamphetamine. And you also probably know that there are certain groups of people who pretend that the so-called “meth epidemic” is just hyperbole, a collection of exaggerated statements meant to instill unnecessary fear about a drug that is no worse than a common medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
I disagree. But you already knew that.
In support of my viewpoint, I came across a couple of reports this past weekend that highlight that meth is not only a problem for the United States, it is a world-wide problem.
On Saturday, June 4, 2016, it was reported that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Border Force intercepted and searched two sea cargo containers in Sydney that allegedly contained 11 diesel generators with 130 kg (286.6 pounds) of meth hidden inside.
The meth had an estimated street value of $80 million (more than $73 million US).
After further investigation, the AFP arrested a 60-year-old dual Nigerian and American national, a 45-year-old dual Nigerian and Mexican national and a 48-year-old dual Australian and Nigerian national and charged each with one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and one count of attempting to possess.
AFP Commander Chris Sheehan told reporters, “This is a case of Mexican organized crime co-operating with West African organized crime in a global syndicate, supplying large quantities, commercial scale quantities of methamphetamine into the Australian community.”
Additional arrests in Australia and elsewhere are anticipated.
And last Friday, June 3, Scott Stammers, 47, was sentenced in New York by U.S. Federal Judge Andrew Carter to 181 months in prison, after which he will be deported.
Mr. Stammers is a citizen of Great Britain who was born in Hong Kong. He was sentenced after he had pleaded guilty to the charges.
Mr. Stammers’ crime? He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in an international conspiracy to import 220 pounds of North Korean meth into the U.S.
That’s right – meth manufactured in none other than North Korea.
Even if the meth had been successfully smuggled into the U.S., would you really trust anything made in Kim Jong-un’s reclusive and repressive country? Would you actually inject it into your body?
But this operation was bigger than just North Korea.
According to prosecutors in the case, Mr. Stammers was part of a world-wide gang that included Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines. This group claimed to hold a monopoly on North Korean meth.
The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, issued a statement, “Thanks to the work of the DEA and the cooperation of law enforcement partners around the world, including in Thailand, Liberia and Romania, Stammers’s scheme ended, not with the North Korean methamphetamine flooding American streets as he had intended, but rather with a guilty plea in a Manhattan federal court.”
Clearly the methamphetamine trade is not just a problem for the United States – it is a world-wide phenomenon involving international crime syndicates.
And it also appears to be a more significant problem for particular cultures.
Case in point. According to the National Congress of the American Indian (NCAI), Native peoples have the highest rate of meth use of any ethnicity in the U.S.
Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln Jr., is the Captain of the Rosebud Police Department in South Dakota. According to their official website, the Rosebud Indian Reservation is the home of the federally recognized Sicangu Oyate – also known as Sicangu Lakota, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, a branch of the Lakota people.
In a report published online on May 31 in Indian Country, Captain Waln said, “At least 60 percent of the population on the Rosebud reservation uses meth.”
Can you imagine – 60 percent? That’s an unbelievably high percentage!
Captain Waln also reported that in 2014, the Rosebud Corrections facility housed 11,880 inmates. In 2015, it housed 45,237 inmates. In 2015, 30 percent of those inmates were incarcerated for meth-related crimes.
The NCAI agrees with Captain Waln. They state that 40 percent of all crime in Indian country is directly related to meth.
Melissa Eagle Bear is the Facilities Administrator for the Rosebud Corrections Facility. She actually believes that the percentage of meth-related crimes could be much higher. She says that while the most common offense for men incarcerated at the jail is domestic violence, it soon becomes clear that they also have a problem with meth.
However, even though the Rosebud Sioux Tribe opened the first meth-specific treatment facility in Indian country as part of a five-year pilot project in 2010, the meth “tsunami” – as they call it there – remains unabated.
“Right now, the meth situation is out of control,” Captain Waln says. “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough resources to put everyone in treatment who needs it.”
In other stories, Shannon and Kaleb Mickley, of Gypsum, Colo., were sentenced to 4 years of probation last week for activities that occurred back in May of 2015.
You see, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office was called after gunshots were heard in the Mickley’s home. The husband and wife told the deputies that they had fired two shotgun rounds into their basement at the “intruders” who were coming after them.
There was no one there. The Mickleys were the victims of the “shadow people” – hallucinations of imaginary people brought on by the chronic use of methamphetamine.
The couple’s three children were in the home at the time of the incident but were unharmed. However, they were removed from their parents’ care by the Department of Human Services as a result.
In Henderson, Ky., a 63-year-old woman also shot her firearm inside her apartment while high on meth. Seems to be a trend this week.
Angela Shelton was upset about being evicted and shot her gun at a wall in her apartment back on June 2. She narrowly missed hitting a child next door, but did manage to hit a $7,700 fish tank.
Ms. Shelton claims that she thought the gun was unloaded because she pulled the trigger three times before it fired.
Three times! That’s truly frightening!
But she does not have to worry about where she will stay – at least for the near future. At last report, she was being held at the Henderson County Detention Center and was facing several charges.
Remember, no one is immune from the effects of meth. Don’t try it – not even once!
If you are an IV meth user, especially a woman, I want to hear from you. I want to learn more about what meth does to you and your body to better determine what needs to be done to help you. I also want to know your story – how you started using meth and whether or not you also appreciate the differences between smoking meth and slamming it. Please contact me in complete confidence at email@example.com. You will remain completely anonymous. I will never print anything about you that will betray your trust in me, and I will never judge you.