Police say dope dealers in Hillsboro and across the country are apparently using an old-school marketing technique to boost sales, tinting their methamphetamine sky-blue, then claiming it is a more potent product.
Agents with the Westside Interagency Narcotics team say their was a significant quantity of "blue meth" mixed in with a pound-and-a-half of the drug seized June 18 and 19 in raids at two Hillsboro apartments.
Two Mexican nationals, 31-year-old Bulmaro Bermudez-Ortiz and 37-year-old Salvador Rangel-Cruz were arrested on suspicion of distribution, manufacture and possession of a controlled substance.
Previous tests have revealed no chemical difference between the blue and the original off-white product, said Washington County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Rich Preim, a member of the county narcotics team.
We think the guy was dyeing it himself, Koch said. He gets the word out on the street that it's a new product, creating a higher demand, and thus more profit.
Agents also arrested 25-year-old Hilaria Ayala-Vargas for frequenting a place where drugs are sold. Two girls, ages 4 months and 5, were taken into protective custody.
Part of an ongoing investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI, agents raided the apartments at 45 SE 9th Ave. and 632 SE 7th Ave., as well as cars in the area of Minter Bridge Road and Tualatin Valley Highway, and 229th Avenue and Cornelius Pass Road.
Preim said the investigation has been ongoing for six to eight months, and authorities believe they have arrested the main targets.
Preim said dangerous local labs producing methamphetamine basically disappeared five years ago when legislation banned over-the-counter sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the building blocks of homemade meth.
Demand for the drug has remained high, and manufacture of the drug has shifted to Mexico, where it is still easy to get the ingredients in large quantities of pseudoephedrine, Preim said.
Blue-tinted crystal meth is becoming more prevalent in the Portland area, and may also symbolize gang affiliation, police believe.
Along with the DEA and the FBI, the multi-agency WIN team includes the WCSO and the police departments of Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard, Sherwood and Tualatin and the Oregon National Guard.
Friday, June 25, 2010