OPINION COLUMNS

Methamphetamine still a big problem in Wise

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017
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Wise County appears to be losing the war on methamphetamine.

While marijuana seems to make the news most often on a national level, methamphetamine still seems to be the drug of choice on the local level.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin recently told me about his concerns with the number of methamphetamine arrests his office has seen lately.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

“Our review of records at the sheriff’s office indicates that 85 percent of everything we do directly or indirectly relates to drug or alcohol abuse, and methamphetamine seems to be the most prevalently abused drug,” Akin said.

A quick review of the county jail inmate list recently showed that a third of the inmates had charges related to drugs in penalty group 1, which is almost always methamphetamine.

But law enforcement officials are also quick to point out that other crimes, particularly thefts, are often tied to drugs as well.

The methamphetamine epidemic is nothing new, and the fight against the drug has been going on for a long time.

For much of the last 17 years, I’ve covered the crime beat in Wise County. I can remember in my first few years on the job going to structure fires, usually way out in the country, that would turn out to be “meth lab” explosions or fires.

I also remember covering stories about traffic stops that turned out to be rolling meth labs. It would often be a pickup with all of the ingredients for making methamphetamine located in the bed of the truck.

Methamphetamine manufacturing used to be big business in rural areas like Wise County.

That began to change in 2005 when both state and national laws began to crack down on some of the key ingredients of “precursors” of methamphetamine. The state law that year began requiring pharmacies to keep products containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or norpseudoephedrine behind the counter or in a locked case within 30 feet of direct line of sight from a pharmacy counter. People may be more familiar with the brand name Sudafed.

In 2006, a federal law limited the amount of daily and monthly sales of the base product and required sellers to keep a record of sales of certain products used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

In 2011, Texas also introduced a law requiring the customer show a government-issued form of identification such as a driver’s license indicating the purchaser is 16 years of age or older in order to purchase these medications.

The laws did indeed nearly wipe out the local manufacturing of methamphetamine. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard about a meth lab bust in Wise County.

Unfortunately, the laws did little to actually stop the distribution of the drug in our county.

Methamphetamine is now manufactured in Mexico and transported north of the border and into rural areas like Wise County. Instead of fixing the methamphetamine problem, it seems we just outsourced it.

The drugs also seem to be much cheaper now than they used to be, the sheriff said.

“What really scares me is when I used to work undercover, I’d pay $120 per gram for methamphetamine, but now a gram is going for $40,” Akin said.

It’s a simple supply and demand issue. The amount of Mexican-made methamphetamine coming into the area has made the drug even more readily available than it was before. Supply increases, prices decrease.

Akin said the sheriff’s office is now working to roll out programs at local schools to warn students about the dangers of methamphetamine.

That’s a good start.

But it appears there is much more work ahead if the county wants to win this war.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

2 Responses to “Methamphetamine still a big problem in Wise”

  1. Rusty White says:

    TRUTH, after 50+ YEARS and over a “TRILLION” tax dollars wasted, with more people behind bars than any other country, It is time to try something different? With other states and countries trying new ideas with great success, why are will still going down the wrong road?

    The truth is, many of our problem today were caused by well meaning intentions, an overwhelming majority of those using hard drugs are a direct result of making marijuana illegal, FACT! Sadly many have been forced in to hard drugs just to avoid being caught with marijuana. Because marijuana is bulky and has a easily recognized odor along with blood shot eyes and can be detected up to 90 days in a UA drug test. So many have chosen to use hard drugs that are not easily detected and many are out of their system in 3 days, thereby less chance of being busted with a UA drug test, at the price of family, becoming addicted and health problem and DEATH!!!

    If we really want change we must accept reality and start using truth instead of propaganda and fear to address our problems. All over the world and in many states in this country it have been PROVEN marijuana helps fight hard drugs and opioid use and addiction! History has proven no amount of tax dollars or stricter laws and longer sentences has helped with this problem, FACT!

    Crime rates fall when marijuana is legal, sadly giving our citizens LIFE TIME criminal records leave many with only the DARK SIDE to make a meaningful living or providing for their loved ones!
    Our jails and courts as well as our tax dollars and public servants should be used against “real criminals”, NOT those that have “no victims nor violence” in their supposed crime!

    Once again, I ask those of supposed faith, where in HIS teachings and HIS BOOK, does HE give HIS blessing and permission to use HIS gift to all mankind as a weapon against HIS flock??? ANY TAKERS???

    There has to be a better way, help us find the right path. http://www.leap.cc , Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

  2. Rusty White says:

    Strange is it not, with so MANY in this county “CLAIMING” to be of faith! Yet “NONE” dared answer the last question I ask, that say’s volumes does it not???
    TO EACH THEIR OWN, WE WILL “””ALL “”” answer for our ONW WRONGS, FACT!!!

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