MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is warning of powerful crystal meth from Mexico, making its way to streets across the volunteer state.
Investigators said the meth threat from years ago has now evolved.
“There’s an abundance of crystal meth. It’s available, and it’s cheap,” said T.J. Jordan, Assistant Director of the Drug Investigations Division of the TBI.
Jordan said undercover drug officers are discovering crystal meth in quantities and potencies they have never seen before on the streets. The powerful drugs are coming from Mexico, smuggled into a state with pent-up demand, despite a meth lab crackdown.
A bust last year in middle Tennessee netted 54 pounds of crystal meth with a street value of $2 million.
“We led the nation, one, two, three, as far as meth labs,” said Jordan.
Jordan tells WMC Action News 5 that homemade meth labs declined drastically after a law that went into effect in 2014 limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth, that coul dbe purchased per year.
The state hit its meth lab peak in February of 2013 when 213 labs were reported for the month.
“We’re looking at a reduction of probably 87 percent of meth labs in Tennessee,” he said.
Jordan says Mexican cartels stayed aware of the demand and over time have pushed their product north.
A study commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse services in 2017 found the state remained in the throes of an opioid epidemic, with injection drug use doubling and the number of meth users injecting increasing 249 percent, while the number of users injecting heroin – an opioid – increased 416 percent.
“There’s no question that we are still admist an opioid crisis,” he said.
Jordan said as the state battles the opioid epidemic there’s likely another one looming, the resurgence of meth as well as cocaine.
“The meth that we’re seeing is a lot more potent,” he said, “There’s a lot more violence associated with it.”