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Urban America, meet meth

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 28th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Methamphetamine use, once considered by the public to be a rural scourge is now commonplace in urban areas. New cooking methods and organized gang distribution have made the drug more widespread than ever before and police are scrambling to fight the growing epidemic.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both law enforcement data and court records are revealing that meth busts are on the rise as the drug makes new inroads into urban markets. The increased prevalence of the drug is a result of easier manufacturing methods and better organization by criminal gangs.

Methamphetamine production was once notoriously dangerous and produced a strong ammonia scent that could carry for miles because of the use of ammonia in its production. These factors compelled meth labs to be built in rural areas where they would not be detected by their smell. Rural production also helped prevent detection of fires that could be started by poor methods.

However, new developments in manufacture of the drug allows people to make meth easily and cheaply using as little equipment as a two-liter bottle. This has allowed urban production to boom.

While urban production booms, Mexican drug cartels have also upped production, making yet more powerful versions of the drug in super labs then shipping the toxic substance north into the U.S. 

Wherever the meth is produced, urban distribution is chiefly handled by criminal street gangs that already have the infrastructure and methods in place for such distribution. This in turn promotes crime and violence as gangs compete for territory and addicts steal for money to purchase more of the drug.

A key ingredient in methamphetamine manufacture is pseudoephedrine, which is available only in limited quantities from pharmacies. To obtain the required quantities, manufacturers often recruit small groups of individuals, and sometimes the homeless, to visit pharmacies to buy their maximum allowed quantities.

Pooling these resources, manufacturers then have enough to make their next batch.

In addition to the increase in crime from theft and violence, meth production itself remains dangerous. A number of fires have been started in urban areas from failed meth manufacturing attempts. Vehicles have been found burning, in those cases where meth was being prepared inside.

Manufacturers can also use other chemicals including battery acid and drain cleaner.

All this means meth is an exceptionally dangerous drug. In addition to the dangers of manufacture, the use of the drug affects the brain. It can be instantly addictive, and it provides a temporary high with euphoria, increased libido, and mania, which can inspire individuals to do things they would not otherwise do, including endanger themselves or others.

The increased availability of the drug and its ease of manufacture, and low price have made it a popular choice across the socioeconomic spectrum. Police say they have even arrested retirees in possession of the drug.

Meth is no longer just a rural or poor man's drug. Today, it has entered the mainstream and police fight it daily. Meth and its inherent dangers are the new normal for law enforcement nationwide.

Check out this CBS News gallery of what Meth can do to you. Comment your thoughts below.

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