Operation Allied Again Meth - Project Neon BLOG

Operation Allied Again Meth

Posted by Project NEON on October 14, 2009 4:45 PM

Operation: Allied Against Meth

Attorney General Rob McKenna's statewide anti-meth strategy to fight Washington's deadly drug epidemic

Methamphetamine- its production, transportation, distribution and abuse- is a huge threat to the Pacific Region. The deadly drug has impacted the entire Pacific Region, but when Attorney General McKenna took office, Washington was the hardest hit with:

  • Nearly twice the number of methamphetamine labs reported than Oregon and exponentially more than Idaho and Alaska
  • The highest number of Federal Drug Seizures of methamphetamine in the Pacific region
  • Higher levels of availability of the drug resulting in lower prices than any other state

Children are directly and indirectly placed at risk by meth production and use:

  • Children documented at Washington methamphetamine lab sites have increased each year since 2001 to 495 kids in 2004, according to the EPIC Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System. This is almost five times the number of children reported in any other state in the region.
  • Babies admitted to the Pediatric Interim Care Center suffering from prenatal methamphetamine exposure exceeded admissions of infants suffering from the effects of any other drug
  • In 2004, 49 infants were admitted with methamphetamine exposure compared to 34 for cocaine
  • An additional 14 infants were admitted who had been exposed to a combination of amphetamines and cocaine or opiates

This issue impacts the Attorney General's Office on several fronts, most importantly:

  • Increased number of children referred to the state's Child Protective Services
  • Increased call for prosecutorial assistance to handle the rise in property crime, violence and drug cases

Attorney General McKenna is fighting methamphetamine on three major fronts:

Law Enforcement: The Office of Attorney General provides the help of his assistant attorneys general to help enforce and prosecute meth and meth-related crimes.

  • Specialized prosecution - At the request of the local prosecutor, the AAGs help charge and prosecute more complicated cases, such as those involving conspiracy, RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations), property forfeiture and other complex economic crimes.
  • "SWAT Team" - AAGs are systematically and geographically assigned to assist with case backlogs.
  • Cross boundary - AAGs focus on cases that cross county boundaries.
  • Clandestine Labs - AAGs focus on investigating and prosecuting lab cases
  • Other target crimes - Cases that involve criminal activity connected or related to meth crimes.

Education & Community Outreach: In partnership with community-based and industry associations, the Office of Attorney General's education program works to increase the awareness and prevent the use of meth.

  • Community Meth Action Teams: The Attorney General's Office strives to include an AAG on every Community Methamphetamine Action team to help them in their efforts to educate citizens and mobilize their local communities.
  • School and Community Presentations: AG Rob McKenna has partnered with "Lead On America" and others to make presentations and distribute materials to more than 25,000 students from 45 different schools since May 2005.
  • Community Partnerships: Partnering with organizations that represent realtors, builders, farmers, labor and tribes, AG McKenna helped educate their members through materials and presentations about what they can do to prevent meth crimes.

Legislation and Advocacy: In summer 2005, Attorney General McKenna convened the "Operation: Allied Against Meth" task force, a group of:

  • State and local law enforcement officials
  • Prosecutors
  • Business and community representatives
  • Treatment providers
  • Elected officials.

The task force met throughout the fall of 2005 to evaluate and recommend tools to address Washington's methamphetamine epidemic.

The Operation: Allied Against Meth bill (Senate Bill 6239) directs $1.575 million in funding each year through 2010 to be split across three new multi-jurisdictional pilot enforcement areas in:

  • Pacific, Wahkiakum, Lewis, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties;
  • Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties; and
  • Stevens, Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Lincoln counties.

It also provides a minimum of $4 million in state and federal funding for existing multi-jurisdictional drug task forces and local government drug prosecution assistance.

The bill outlines strategies in public education, clean-up and governance and sentencing to:

  • Reduce the number of people addicted to meth
  • Increase treatment
  • Make sentencing and incarceration more effective for meth addicts.

It was unanimously approved by the Legislature and took effect June 7, 2006.

Progress

  • Between 2001 and 2007, meth labs have been reduced by 87 percent. According to the Clandestine Drug Lab Cleanup Activity, there were 1,890 labs in 2001. Just 237 labs were found in 2007.
  • For the month of July 2009, law enforcement did not report discovering a single lab.
  • Deaths resulting from meth use decreased by one-third, while arrests for driving under the drug's influence dropped by over twenty-five percent
.

Meth and ID Theft continue to be linked

  • Identity theft struck at the lives of 8.9 million Americans in 2006, carrying the enormous price tag of $56.6 billion - a $2 billion increase in just one year.
  • Like a battle with persistent cancer, the decrease of meth-related activity in Washington State corresponds with a 27-31% increase in meth-related identity theft nationwide.
  • Unlike in Washington, the other states that lead the nation in meth-related identity theft - Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas and Florida - have continued to see their overall incidents rise.

New trends/ threats

  • The Drug Enforcement Agency reports that the purity of methamphetamines continues to be diluted - from 95% to under 50% in the case of crystal ice, for example.
  • U.S. and Mexican law enforcement have contributed greatly in this regard by reducing the supply of pseudoephedrine.
  • "Smurfing," - the process of joining together small purchases of pseudoephedrine from multiple locations to make a quantity large enough to produce meth - is expected to resurge when prices are high and quality is low.
  • Similarly, addicts are projected to resume cooking their own supply.

New Problem - prescription drug abuse

  • With the falling numbers of illicit drug use, the nation's enemies in the drug war have turned to the far more sinister method of hooking young people on prescription medicine. Currently, painkillers prescribed by doctors are the second-most abused substances in the United States. In 2006, over 16 million Americans over age twelve said they had used them recreationally, while 20% of young people claimed to have abused them, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • In Washington, there has been a sharp spike in abuse of prescription drugs in the past decade.
  • Currently, there are almost as many poisonings from medicine abuse as there are from automobile accidents - about 650 per year.

reference: www.atg.wa.gov/alliedagainstmeth

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This page contains a single entry by Project NEON published on October 14, 2009 4:45 PM.

2009 Anti-Meth Ad Campaign was the previous entry in this blog.

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