San Diego's meth epidemic - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego's meth epidemic

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A task force report released Monday shows that methamphetamine continues to be a wrecking ball in San Diego County, as Mexican Super Labs flood the market with the purest and cheapest product ever seen in the region.

The latest Methamphetamine Strike Force Report Card, which tracks nine indicators of the meth problem in San Diego annually, found that the epidemic is in full force in the county, as numbers of meth-related deaths, emergency room visits, arrests and border seizures remain at alarming levels.

[RELATED: Methamphetamine Strike Force Report Card]

"Meth is a quadruple threat ... it's extremely pure, inexpensive, highly addictive and widely available," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. "We are tackling this monster problem by intensifying efforts to dismantle the cartels and by offering prevention and education programs targeting young people and medical professionals."

According to the report, emergency room visits throughout San Diego County have increased by thousands of patients, up 141 percent since 2010. Seizures of methamphetamine at the San Diego-Tijuana border have marked a dramatic 129 percent increase from 2010 to 2014.

Forty-five percent of adults arrested in 2014 had meth in their system, compared to 27 percent in 2010, according to the report.

Adding to law enforcement official's angst is voter-approved Proposition 47, which last year downgraded meth use and possession of meth from a felony to a misdemeanor offense. When meth use and possession was a felony, the courts could require drug treatment for many offenders. Today, someone can get arrested, released and re-arrested many times for what are considered non- violent meth offenses, the report states.

Twenty-five years ago, meth was cooked up in the United States in small scale labs in motorhomes, trailers or apartments, and it was maybe 50 percent pure. Today's meth is being manufactured in huge quantities in Mexican Super Labs supplied by Asian chemical distributors and staffed by university educated chemists and engineers, the report states.

The result: U.S. Markets are being flooded with the highest quality and lowest priced meth to date. What was once 50 percent pure is now 95 percent pure. What was $1,800 per kilogram in 2010 is now as low as $400, according to the report.

"The trend lines are deeply troubling and show that we must continue to wage war against a drug that is tearing families apart," San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob told City News Service. "Make no mistake ... Meth is death, meth breaks lives and we need to continue to do all we can to stem the tide of this terrible drug into our communities."

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