A recent Associated Press report said although there has been a consistent decline in meth production in Missouri, the smuggling of the drug from Mexico has increased leaving federal and local agencies struggling to contain the movement. (File)
A recent Associated Press report said although there has been a consistent decline in meth production in Missouri, the smuggling of the drug from Mexico has increased leaving federal and local agencies struggling to contain the movement.
Sheriff Chris Heitman with the Maries County Sheriff’s Office said his office personally has seen the decrease in mid-Missouri meth labs but an increase in drug trafficking.
“Thank God meth labs have went down because when I first started in Maries county, we had 19 meth labs and for a small rural county that s a lot of meth labs when we first took over and that was back in 2009,” Heitman said. “We didn’t have any meth labs last year. We need more officers on the street to help intercept a lot of that drug trafficking that’s going on now.”
As sheriff of a rural county, Heitman said there are challenges that come with needing more manpower to tackle new issues.
“Rural counties you know, we don’t have the funding that these larger counties have,” Heitman said. “Every time we have another task to take on, that’s less time we get to focus on our victim crimes, which is our top priority.”
Heitman attributes The decrease in meth labs to productive changed made by law enforcement and elected officials.
“I contribute that a lot to lawmakers changing the Sudafed law and things of that nature that made it hard for cooks to get the products they need to manufacture,” Heitman said.
Though the decrease in locally produced meth is making it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on the deadly drug, the trafficking from South America, and mainly Mexico, has federal and local law enforcement working overtime.
“It is a lot harder for them now,” Heitman said. “There’s no question law enforcement is taking a great stance in reducing the amount of drug trafficking going on.”
According to the Associated Press, Thursday the DEA announced a methamphetamine crackdown called Operation Crystal Shield, which will focus on eight “transportation hubs” where high levels of Mexican meth are being seized. The St. Louis Division, which covers all of Missouri and Kansas as well as southern Illinois, is the northernmost of the eight targeted areas.
By Gladys Bautista | KRCG