For Immediate ReleaseMonday, August 6, 2001
SEATTLE - Today the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), and other national, state and local officials will convene in Seattle to develop a strategy for fighting the use and manufacture of methamphetamine. The State of Washington has one of the nation's worst methamphetamine problems.
Methamphetamine, meth, or "crank" represents the fastest growing drug threat in America. Primarily a drug that was concentrated in southwestern states, it has spread rapidly. Due to characteristics of the drug, methamphetamine is difficult to detect, is highly explosive during the manufacturing process, creates hazardous waste, and therefore poses significant danger to the communities where it is manufactured.
Recent studies indicate methamphetamine use in America nearly tripled from 1994 to 1999. Hospitals in the United States reported over 10,000 emergency room visits related to methamphetamine use in 1999 alone. On a list of 85 death causing drugs in the country, methamphetamine ranks sixth.
"The safety threats posed by methamphetamine present unique challenges to law enforcement." said COPS Acting Director Ralph Justus. "Methamphetamine is not just a law enforcement problem, a hazardous material issue, or a social services challenge. It is a serious community concern and therefore merits a community solution."
Since 1998, the COPS Office has invested $153 million dollars to address this critical issue. Sixty million of these funds have gone directly to DEA for training and clandestine lab clean-up.
The summit will include representatives from law enforcement, hazardous material management, environmental cleanup, social services, substance abuse treatment, emergency medicine, education, and the courts. Bringing together all of these practitioners to contribute to a collective statewide strategy is unprecedented, yet is an approach that can be duplicated in other states facing the distinct challenges presented by the spread of methamphetamine.