OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Tuesday Nebraska state troopers seized several controlled substances during a traffic stop on I-80 near North Platte. And if you talk to agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, they have seen an increase in meth seizures. And the Mexican drug cartels are playing a role.
“This has been a steady increase of methamphetamine, not just here but throughout the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Omaha Division, Richard Salter. Compared to heroin, cocaine, even opioids the market for meth has them all beat. “It is the most abused drug in the United States,” said Salter.
He said in the past seven years there has been an increase in meth purity and a drop in price. In 2012 an ounce of meth would cost $1,500. Now the price is $4,000 a pound. Signaling the Mexican cartels have gained access into the U.S. from the southern border to the Canadian.
The Omaha division of the DEA covers five states. Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. In this division there has been a 31% increase in meth seizures just this year. “They take advantage of relatives and communities and employment opportunities to get into the United States,” said Salter.
The Mexican-sourced meth in this division is one or two levels removed from the cartels. And Salter said it's being moved by ground. “When you're talking about 60 to 100 pounds they're not putting that into parcel packages and mailing them,” he said.
Which is why they rely on state and local enforcement to help. “Without our state and local partners our footprint would be easily cut in half,” said Salter. And Omaha's local law enforcement keeps their eye on I-80. “Interstate 80 goes from California all the way to New York, it's a very major interstate and it just so happens that it goes through our state,” said Lieutenant Mike Grummert with the Nebraska State Patrol.
Making it a good transfer point for drugs. Which the state patrol is trained to watch for. “Just making numerous traffic stops, checking out people's stories about where they are going to, where they are coming from,” said Lt. Grummert. Hoping to decrease the amount of meth on the streets.
The DEA said there is a three-pronged approach to cutting down on the drug problem. By enforcing the laws, educating the communities, and treating those who are addicted.