The drug is cheaper, more powerful and more available than ever in Alaska, authorities say. Alaskans have dramatically increased over the past decade. It regularly appears in court cases ranging from car theft to murder.
The drug is not heroin. It's Meth.
Alaska's Opioid Crisis has caught the attention of lawmakers and officials who have devoted money and focused on the problem.
When soldiers are taking drugs in investigations, "it's very rare for us to see heroin without methamphetamine," said Michael Duxbury, head of the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit of the Department of Public Safety in Alaska. 19659007] Like heroin, meth has become more effective, cheaper, and more accessible, said Jay Butler, the country's chief medical officer
"It's a sort of reflection of the heroin epidemic," he said. "Cleaner product, greater potency, lower price – it's a deadly combination."
For addicts, the drug couple is: Heroin is a downer and methamphetamine is an upper. Some traders call them "slow and fast," said Anchorage District Attorney Richard Allen.
It is not uncommon for addicts to feed their heroin addictions, to turn to meth, to bring them from the couch to the world – and sometimes to steal or commit other crimes to support their habit.
"People say heroin is upside down 'because you nod in. If you want to be fully functional with heroin, how do you do that? Said Duxbury. "You take a stimulant."
By & # 39; Beavis & Butthead Labs & # 39; to & # 39; ice & # 39;
Twenty years ago, meth was a widespread and widespread scourge in Alaska and nationwide.
It was mainly produced in small numbers by amateurs at home, said Allen, who was a prosecutor in Mat-Su in the early 2000s when the home-made meth phenomenon reached its peak.
In 2004, US Drug Administration officials identified 58 meth labs in Alaska, according to news from the period. The people who make meth usually made small, impure amounts using materials that could be bought from a Walmart.
"I Called Them Beavis and Butthead Labs," an Allusion to the 1990s MTV Cartoon with Two Dusky Teenagers (19659002) There are very few meth labs in the state, sources of law enforcement say.
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Some things led to a big shift, Allen said. The legislature passed laws that made it much harder to buy the over-the-counter precursors for producing meth, such as cold medicine. Medical manufacturers also changed formulations. The state made meth – lots of meth – a high-level crime, punished with a long prison sentence, Allen said.
In Alaska and elsewhere, business changed. Larger, more sophisticated operations that processed larger volumes of drugs took control.
Today, almost all meth in Alaska is produced in major professional laboratories in Mexico, using ingredients from India or China, drug officials say
Drugs are then smuggled into states like California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada before being sent to Alaska by post or "body wrap", a law enforcement term for smuggling drugs into body cavities.
One case in Southeast Alaska, a 35-year-old Seattle resident, Zerisenay Gebregiorgis, was convicted of smuggling heroin and methamphetamine into the Southeast Asian communities of Ketchikan and Sitka. According to federal court records, Gebregiorgis had women he calls "suitcases" carrying the drugs in their body cavities on commercial flights from Seattle.
Law enforcement agencies say heroin is more "packed" than meth, because the dosage needed to get high is smaller. A smaller volume is worth more money.
Both meth and heroin are often sent through the mail, Duxbury said.
Drug-sniffing dogs have helped authorities to make some significant discoveries lately: In October, Cheng Saechao, a 28-year-old man from Anchorage, was arrested for containing $ 1.4 million in heroin and methanol from California to Anchorage. According to court documents, the meth was sewn into stuffed animals.
But even that represents a fraction of the meth going through Anchorage every week, Carson said.
Today's meth is very different from the drug that circulates on the Anchorage roads 20 years ago
In the past, methamphetamine on the road was 60 to 70 percent pure. It looked beige or even orange, almost like lumpy drywall, said Allen, the prosecutor. Now, purity of police-tested meth is closer to 90 percent, said Jack Carson, a lieutenant in the Anchorage Police Department's crime-fighting department. It is clear and crystalline.
Heroin is far more likely to kill – about 100 Alaskans died of opioid overdoses of all kinds last year – but more people are dying of meth.
"The number of overdoses that are involved in meth are quite dramatic rose, "said Butler, the head of public health.
About a quarter of those who died of meth overdose had heroin in their system at the time of death, the report said. 19659045] Terria Walters, a former drug addict who has recovered in the long term, founded Fallen Up Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps addict addicts. Photographed March 28, 2018. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
Sometimes heroin is the entry-level drug to Meth. Terria Walters says she tried to escape opioids when she started meth in the Valley Valley Station in mid-2000  In 2005, she was arrested in a Big Lake Laboratory on a converted bus because she offered meth. At the time, police told her 13-year-old son that his mother "cooked the best meth in the valley," according to news reports from the time. He went to foster care. She went to jail and came out clean and sober. She has been in recovery for more than 13 years.
Her 23-year-old son, Christopher Seaman, was murdered in 2015 after police claimed that it was a drug killing. She has since become a passionate addictive advocate and founded a nonprofit organization called Fallen Up Ministries that helps people recover from drugs. People contact them daily to seek help, she recently said in an interview.
Many of the people who seek help are dependent on heroin and meth, she says. It's not so much about what drug people are in this thing, she says: One or both can ruin your life.
"It's the whole disease of addiction," she said. "You have to change your whole life."