The San Diego County Meth Strike Force revealed their 2019 report card on Monday morning with a look at the impacts of methamphetamine, also known as meth, in the local community.
The good news: San Diego County is no longer a large hub for meth labs.
The bad news: meth is still infiltrating San Diego County via Mexico at an alarming rate.
“We have Mexican drug cartels that are bringing this methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States – it’s cheaper, it’s easier to access, but it’s killing people and it’s devastating families,” said San Diego County Supervisor, Dianne Jacob.
The drug is being produced at ‘super labs’ in Mexico and smuggled into the U.S., according to Steve Woodland, Commander for the North County Task Force.
“More meth is seized along the California border, here in San Diego and Imperial County, then along the border of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas combined. The amount of meth seized here in San Diego increased 237% from the year 2013 to 2018. As a result, our communities are being flooded with meth that is being sold at record low prices,” said Woodland.
How low? “In 2003, one pound of meth had a street value of $15-20,000 dollars. Today that same one pound of meth can be purchased for $850,” added Woodland.
NBC 7 Investigates uncovered more about the meth crisis in San Diego County, including a closer look at the number of drug seizures at the border and the impacts on the local community. For the full report, click here.
The number of deaths related to methamphetamine increased by more than 30% in the last year in San Diego County, and doubled in the last five years, according to the San Diego County Deputy Medical Examiner.
Of these deaths, people between 45-to 65-years-old were the most impacted age group with meth-related deaths or overdoses.
“We need the community to wake up and realize that this is a true epidemic,” said San Diego County District Attorney, Summer Stephan.
To take action, the San Diego County Meth Task Force has created a "call to action" that involves promoting treatment options and preventing drug use in young people.
One of the big areas of focus will also be to increase public awareness of the treatment options available for addicts. The County currently operates a 24-7 hotline for people to get connected to treatment – but, as of now, the hotline is being underused.
“But the sad thing is, we’ve only had, in our hotline, known to meth, only 87 contacts. We should have about a thousand times more of those,” said Nick Macchione, Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.
The Meth Strike Force was created in San Diego County in 1996 as a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary approach after San Diego became labeled the ‘meth capital of the United States,’ with the epicenter in the East County, according to San Diego County Supervisor, Dianne Jacob.