Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meth use on the rise in some states; task force tackling drugs on Indian reservations

Meth continues to be the drug of choice, especially in rural areas. More than 1.6 million Americans were arrested in 2010 on drug charges,  and 4.5 million people were classified as abusing or being dependent on illicit drugs in 2012, Jessica Ware reports for The Independent. (Rehabs photo: The change in appearance of a drug user in just one year)

In Minnesota, the amount of meth seized in 2014 was 226 pounds, a nearly 40 percent increase over 2013, and the highest total seized in 10 years, Shannon Prather reports for the Star Tribune. Officials say the main reason for the increase in seizures is that meth is cheap and easy to find.

Meth use and trafficking is up in Oregon, with a report by the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program finding that 61 percent of law enforcement agencies cited meth as their No. 1 problem, Rick Bella reports for The Oregonian. The report says legalization of marijuana is leading to an increase in meth. Oregon will legalize recreational marijuana on July 1.

Meth is surging in Northeast Wisconsin, where the Brown County Task Force seized 727 grams of meth through April, more than three times the 237 grams seized in all of 2014, Sarah Thomsen reports for WBAY in Green Bay. Meth arrests are also up in South Dakota, with 1,517 arrests in 2014, compared to 402 in 2011, reports The Associated Press. The rise in arrests is partially blamed on cuts to anti-drug programs.

One solution has been the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDT) program, which was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and is recognized in 28 areas. The newly formed Indian Country Drug Task Force in New Mexico is the only one to focus exclusively on Native American reservations, Anne Minard reports for Indian Country.

"In many ways, Indian country is a magnet for drugs. Part of that has to do with the remoteness of reservations and the slimmer chance, in theory, of getting caught," Minard writes. "Limited economic opportunities can also make the drug trade attractive on a local level. And Mexican cartels consider reservations to be prime real estate. They bring in their purest meth, for example, if they think it’s going to a reservation."

William McClure, Salish Flathead, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Indian Affair's Office of Justice Services in Albuquerque, told Minard, “The idea is to get the tribal officers oriented into working with the drug task force, which is not only enforcement and investigations but also prevention. The goal is to empower the community and the tribes to be more independent and to eventually work the drug cases without relying on the federal agencies.”

When that doesn't work, officials can always turn to the website Rehabs, which showcases a visual array of the dangers of drug use, showing the horrible effects it has on people physically.

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