San Diego

Meth Crisis Tied to ‘Super Labs' in Mexico: Task Force

Part of the problem can be found in so-called “super labs” south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees arrested a teenager on a Sunday morning at the checkpoint along Interstate 8 in Pine Valley.

Agents said the teenager was driving a Nissan Armada with 46 bundles of methamphetamine hidden inside. The seizure was worth $150,000 on the street.

Arrests like this one are an indication of what many local officials are calling a "crisis" - not only in the San Diego region but in the western U.S.

According to the Methamphetamine Strike Force 2016 Report Card, meth-related drug overdose deaths in San Diego County rose 18.7 percent in 2015 to 311.

Of those deaths, more than half were over the age of 45. In 2015, 310 people died of meth use according to county statistics. Fifty-seven percent of those deaths were among people ages 45 to 64.

Emergency-room discharges for meth which were 3,773 in 2011 jumped to more than 10,000 in 2014.

The statistics were shared Thursday by the Methamphetamine Strike Force, composed of approximately 70 local, state and federal organizations and agencies.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Mark Conover called the resurgence of meth in the region a "crisis."

"We’re intercepting shipments as large as 150 pounds of pure meth,” Conover said Thursday. “What we’re confiscating is getting more pure, and the shipments are growing in terms of size and frequency.”

“I don’t think people realize the severity of the problem,” he said.

Part of the problem can be found in so-called “super labs” south of the U.S.-Mexico border. The chemical components used to manufacture meth are imported from suppliers in China. Once the product is created, it's shipped north across the border to be sold and distributed.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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