Goodbye Meth?

KEPR first told you about the decline of meth labs in Benton County.

And now fewer labs have had a direct result on the amount of meth uncovered by police.

"It's like smoking death," said John.

This young man knows the staggering effects of meth.
We'll call him "John."
And he was once a meth addict.

"When you're high, it feels like you can do anything, and you're like superman," described John.

He also knows people who make and use the drug.

"You tell yourself that you're not addicted, and it's hard to argue with yourself," added John.

It's one reason John was surprised to learn police have seized a lot less meth so far this year -- than in all of last year.
From 14,000 grams -- to less than 3,000 at this point.

"Do you think that meth is any less - or the presence is any less here in the Tri-Cities? Despite the decrease in numbers?" I asked.

"Meth is one of those and first that economic factors drive this - it's an inexpensive drug to buy on the street compared to other illegal narcotics," said Kennewick Police Sergeant Ken Lattin.

The task force tells me they still make frequent drug arrests.
This map shows some from just the past couple weeks.
Those are for people peddling the drug.
It's not as common to bust an entire meth lab.

"If you can bake cookies, you can make meth," said John.

Recently -- 50 labs were uncovered in an entire year in Benton County.
But it was double that a decade ago.
Tougher laws have made it difficult to get the ingredients.

Officials tell KEPR the recent crackdown on local meth production means the drug is coming up from Mexico. And dealers find the Tri-Cities appealing for its easy highway access -- not only to our local area, but to other large cities as well.

Those cartels can shift the amount of meth seized in a community virtually overnight.

"We're going to see those numbers increase," said Sergeant Lattin.

But even if the drugs are taken away, John knows the appetite for meth will remain.

"The addicts are always going to be addicts - and always going to find a way to get it," emphasized John.

KEPR also talked to the Crisis Response Center. They told us the number of patients who identified meth as their primary drug of choice -- has stayed about the same.