Recent efforts may have been successful at reducing American meth production, but it appears Mexican cartels may be picking up the slack.
The Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005, which trumps laws that had already been passed in many states, made stores move their cold medicines containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine – which can be extracted and used to make methamphetamine – behind the counter, limit the amount that consumers can purchase and require purchasers to present photo identification. Stores must also keep personal information about these customers in a logbook for two years.
The regulations lend an illicit air to a legitimate attempt to banish a stuffy nose. Many cold meds now include phenylephrine, which doesn’t carry the same restrictions – or efficacy….
But if consumers view this new counter ritual as a small sacrifice to keep meth off the streets, they may be disappointed to see that tough restrictions at the drugstore have failed to dent availability of the illegal drug. Restricting pseudoephedrine may have shut down small-time neighborhood meth cookeries, but Mexican cartels have seized the opportunity to swoop into unconquered territory and make those meth customers their own.
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2007 National Drug Threat Assessment, “Marked success in decreasing domestic methamphetamine production through law enforcement pressure and strong precursor chemical sales restrictions has enabled Mexican (drug trafficking organizations) to rapidly expand their control over methamphetamine distribution – even in eastern states – as users and distributors who previously produced the drug have sought new, consistent sources.”
Additionally, the flow of “ice” – highly concentrated meth that is usually smoked – from Mexico has increased sharply, most likely creating more addicts because of the better high it creates, states the report.
So while lawmakers have focused on regulating sniffling customers at drugstore counters, Mexican cartels have monopolized the gaps left in the meth market, bringing their goods – and guns – across a porous border. “Now, approximately 80 percent of all meth purchased in the U.S. originates from Mexican labs,”
This has gotten some attention on some blogs, but feels like they’re trying to have it both ways: “Look! The boneheaded drug warriors have created a crisis. They’ve given a gift to those vicious Mexican drug cartels, who are invading thanks to our porous borders.”; and “Look! The boneheaded drug warriors are hyping meth use. There’s no crisis and there never was!”
This particular columnist is politically conservative and has previously written at least a few articles on immigration. Is this just an opportunity to raise alarm at illegal immigration?