DEA: More Meth, Heroin Seized In Arizona In 2015

Published: Friday, January 22, 2016 - 4:59pm
Updated: Monday, January 25, 2016 - 1:03pm
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(Photo by Nancy Montoya - AZPM)

The flow of drugs across the Arizona-Mexico border is a constant battle for drug enforcement officials, but, which drugs are bring trafficked into the country are always changing.

Right now, those drugs are meth and heroine, according to statistics provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In fiscal year 2015, agencies seized almost 6,400 pounds of meth in Arizona, up from less than 5,000 pounds in 2013. And, more than 1,200 pounds of heroin was seized in 2015, up from 853 pounds in 2013.

At the same time, the amount of cocaine apprehended has gone down from about 2,500 pounds in 2013 to about 2,300 pounds in 2015.

Doug Coleman, DEA special agent in charge of the Phoenix division, said they have no way of knowing exactly how much of any illegal drug is being trafficked into the country. But, they can follow these trends by tracking the amount of each drug that is seized on the border and throughout the state.

Coleman said Mexican cartels control about 90 percent of the methamphetamine trade coming into the county and about 80 percent of the heroine trade. But, he said, that’s not the case with cocaine. He said they’ve seen a decrease in the amount of cocaine coming through the border in Arizona because Mexican cartels don’t manufacture cocaine.

“They actually just get a piece of a transportation fee from the Colombians and the Peruvians when that comes up,” he said. “So, they are less inclined now to move coke up through the Southwest border and much more inclined to move meth, heroine and weed because they control all those. They make it themselves, manufacture it themselves, smuggle it themselves. The profit margin for them on those three drugs is much better than the profit margin on cocaine.”

All of this has had an affect on the production of drugs in Arizona

“We used to have a significant laboratory problem here in the United States,” Coleman said.

But, after the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act passed in 2005, it’s been a lot more difficult for the drug to be manufactured in the U.S. The act regulated the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be bought over-the-counter in the country so manufacturers can’t go to one drug store and buy 200 packs of Sudafed, then to another and buy 200 more in order to manufacture methamphetamine, Coleman said.
The DEA reported that they seized no methamphetamine labs in Arizona in fiscal year 2015, and they seized five conversion labs in 2014.

Coleman said this doesn’t mean that there are no methamphetamine labs left in the state, but he said the law has effectively solved the problem of having super labs producing mass amounts of methamphetamine in the country. Instead, mass production of methamphetamine has switched to Mexico, Coleman said. Now, we’re seeing it come across the border.

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