Tennessee Sees Rise in Mexican-Made Meth

By Shawn Dwyer 12/23/13

The cheaper, more powerful form of methamphetamine known as ice has found its way deeper into the heartland.

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Border seizures have increased.
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According to investigators, there has been a steady rise of Mexican meth flooding the markets around Tennessee, though on the whole users still prefer to buy local product.

Part of the reason authorities believe that ice has begun flooding the market has been the staggering drop in methamphetamine prices, which have seen a 70 percent plunge since late 2007, according to the National Drug Threat Assessment released this month by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Nationally, about 80 percent of all meth comes from Mexico, though in some areas that number has been lower due to plenty of supply being made locally. But with Tennessee spending over $1.6 billion in meth-related operations and ranking third nationally in meth lab seizures, the state has seen an influx of ice coming from south of the border to fill demand. "The Mexican meth has made it into this area," said Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth. "It's definitely a growing problem. It's better stuff. It's cheaper."

The flood of meth has mainly hit more populated areas, since harder to reach rural areas cook their own and lack the pipeline – which runs from Mexico to Atlanta and into Chatanooga via I-75 – to effectively distribute the drug. But in Dalton, GA, which is part of the distribution pipeline, ice has taken over. "The vast majority of meth in this region comes in from Mexico,” said Bruce Frazier, a spokesperson for the Dalton Police Department. “Basically if it's in any kind of large quantity, that's where it started. Sometimes the meth comes in liquid form and may be finished here in the States, but typically it's made in Mexico and comes here."

Because Mexican meth has greatly contributed to the drop in price, the DEA expects that local cookers will be pushed aside in favor of Mexico's import.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.