Pubdate: Sun, 26 Aug 2007
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2007 The Topeka Capital-Journal
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Federal Funds Could Help State Make Further Dent In Cutting Meth Supply Lines

Kansas law enforcement officers have won a battle against 
methamphetamine, but the war is far from over.

Authorities said meth lab busts have plunged dramatically in recent 
years, suggesting there has been a steep drop in the amount of the 
drug being manufactured in the state.

But the bad news is that importation of the drug has climbed, 
apparently so much that the overall supply of the destructive drug 
has remained relatively steady despite the decline in domestic labs.

"The price per ounce hasn't gone up, which is a really strong 
indicator that supply hasn't gone down," said Kyle Smith, Kansas 
Bureau of Investigation deputy director.

With that disturbing situation in mind, Congress should approve 
funding being sought by Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., to combat meth in Kansas.

Moran is seeking $150,000 to help authorities crack down on meth 
imports, plus $75,000 to replace outdated protective vests worn by KBI agents.

The money is included in an appropriations bill that has cleared the 
House and is awaiting Senate action. Moran believes there's a good 
chance the Senate will include the funding in the version of the bill 
that will go to President Bush.

The funding can't come too soon. Smith said authorities are well 
aware that meth is pouring into Kansas from beyond the state's 
borders, primarily from Mexico through Texas and Oklahoma.

Occasionally, he said, car stops in the southwest part of the state 
have yielded meth being carted into the state.

Smith said the funding would be used to amass equipment and manpower 
aimed at disrupting supply chains. The money would go toward training 
for state and local authorities as well as paying overtime to 
officers for drug interdiction work.

If those efforts are as successful as the state's fight against 
domestic production, the money would be well spent.

According to statistics from the KBI, the number of lab seizures has 
decreased from 702 in 2000 to just 46 so far this year. Credit for 
the decline lies partly with law enforcement operations and partly 
with legislation that made it harder for meth manufacturers to obtain 
over-the-counter medication containing ingredients that are commonly 
used to make the drug.

But even when meth labs were at their height in Kansas, Smith said, 
they accounted for no more than 20 percent of the overall supply.

"Generally, our labs were not the super labs you see in California 
and Mexico," he said.

Rather, Smith said, Kansas was home to many of what he called "Beavis 
and Butt-Head" labs that produced enough meth for the people who ran 
them, but not much more than that.

With domestic supply running low, Smith said, manufacturers quickly 
filled the void with what's know as Mexican meth, which generally is 
produced in large, yellowish crystals.

Now that the front has moved from our back yard to importers, here's 
hoping Congress acts quickly to help fund the fight.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman