As Western Maryland battles the opioid crisis, meth is surging
HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- The number of meth cases, particularly of one-pot meth labs in Western Maryland, has been experiencing a recent surge. DEA agents and partner agencies in Western Maryland are seeing a resurgence of one-pot meth labs in the area -- noting more incidents of meth labs in the area this year than the last 5 years combined.
“The DEA and our partners are working hard to push back against the recent resurgence of methamphetamine cases in Western Maryland and across the DMV,” Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division said today. “We will continue to identify, investigate, and take down those who attempt manufacturing and distributing this dangerous substance in our neighborhoods.”
Last week, a Maryland man was found to have been running a suspected methamphetamine lab in the Hagerstown area. Charges are pending further investigation.
“One-pot” methamphetamine laboratories are portable, often homemade, labs that are stood up to create smaller batches of methamphetamine in a shorter amount of time than traditional methods used by large drug traffickers. The process involves the combination of several common household ingredients in one container and are extremely dangerous. The concentration of the products used builds up pressure within the sealed container to levels beyond which the containers are made to withstand and run a very high risk of exploding into a giant fireball.
The ease of transport and concealment of one-pot labs creates a significant concern for officer and public safety. Substances and containers used to create a one-pot lab can be easily overlooked. Therefore, awareness of the precursor chemicals and containers are key to identifying an active lab.
The resurgence of the methamphetamine in recent years has largely been overshadowed by the nation’s intense focus on opioids. Because there has been so much attention on opioids in the last few years, the DEA has helped with Maryland and Virginia’s fight to combat the crisis over time. However, they have also been working diligently on these other substance use trends prevalent across the area, with the resurgence of meth use being one of particular note.
As opioids become harder to get people have typically turned to meth, which is inexpensive and readily available. Commonly known as crystal meth, methamphetamine was popular in the 1990s before laws made it more difficult to access the pseudoephedrine, a common cold medicine, needed to produce it. In recent years, the DEA has found, nationwide, fewer domestic meth labs and more meth being smuggled in from other countries south of the border. However, Western Maryland, as well as other areas across Maryland and Virginia have seen a particular resurgence of meth use and production, in this way, lately.
The CDC estimates that almost 10,500 people died of meth-related drug overdoses in 2017. According to the Maryland Department of Health, the number of meth-related deaths occurring in Maryland rose by over 114% from 2017 to 2018 and has increased over 10-fold since 2014. During that same time, the number of prescription opioid-related deaths increased by 220% from 2014 to 2017, then decreased by about 8% from 2017 to 2018, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.