HARLINGEN — In an upcoming report, the U.S. Justice Department cites high and increasing levels of methamphetamine in the United States because of increased production of the drug in Mexico.
But local law enforcement officials say meth remains at the bottom of the list of narcotics smuggled and distributed through the Rio Grande Valley, and that most of the meth that travels through the Valley is bound for cities farther north, not for local drug users.
The yet-to-be-released National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment, mentioned in several national news reports and leaked this past week to the New York Times, states that meth levels in the U.S. have rebounded to a 5-year high, despite previous declines of the drug since 2006.
In the report, the National Drug Intelligence Center blames the spike primarily on large-scale meth production in Mexico, where it says drug traffickers have largely learned how to bypass the Mexican government’s restrictions on importing chemicals used to manufacture the drug.
The Department of Justice had delayed the report partly due to the tensions between the U.S. and Mexico surrounding border politics and the harsh language contained in the report about Mexican efforts to eradicate drug smuggling, the Times report claimed.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracey Schmaler confirmed that the NDIC is still reviewing the report and that it has yet to be officially released to law enforcement agencies.
The Department is working with NDIC on a review process to ensure that accurate and credible information is provided to the public and law enforcement community while continuing to protect sensitive intelligence, Schmaler said in a statement.
Despite the report’s findings, the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department remains far more concerned about the prevalence of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine in the Valley than meth.
From what we’ve gathered here, we have much more of a problem with coke and especially marijuana, Sheriff Omar Lucio said.
June 12, 2010