United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Rising scourge of methamphetamine in America : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, October 26, 1995 online

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frequent age of first use in Santa Clara County, from our studies,
is 11 years old. And is growing to be the drug of choice for children
in middle schools and high schools.

I am concerned about this drug on many levels. One, obviously
it has a devastating impact on young people, it leads to violent be-
havior through the lack of sleep and through the drug induced psy-
chosis. It's also a hazard to neighbors. I can recall very well a
methamphetamine lab up in my district that exploded, and several
people died in the fire that ensued, including one police officer.
Firefighters are obviously at risk along with neighbors.

So the question is what to do to stem this tide. It occurs to me
that there are a number of things that we need to do. You've ref-
erenced some of them. I am interested in the precursor chemical
issue. I understand that the precursor chemicals are also imported
from abroad and that we are working to deal with that, but there
are a number of precursor chemicals usually involved in meth-
amphetamine labs, hydrochloric acid, for example. It's not just the
precursor chemical that you have mentioned. I'm wondering what
efforts we should make, if any, to control substances, other than
those that are currently controlled, in methamphetamine labs.

And I also am aware that particular drugs go into popularity.
For example, a number of years ago, PCP was the popular drug in
my district. I'm not saying that it's no longer used, but really it's
popularity has waned significantly as methamphetamines has
grown. The Wilson administration last year issued a report indicat-
ing that drug treatment and education was seven times more effec-
tive than law enforcement in reducing drug use. I'm wondering if
you can comment on the budgets that we're allocating in helping



29

young people resist drug addiction and drug use as compared to the
amount of money in toto we're spending into law enforcement.

Mr. CoNSTANTiNE. Let me see if I can answer those.

One, as far as the situation in your State, I think you are abso-
lutely correct. Your State has been impacted more adversely al-
ready than any other State in the Union. Although it's moving
quickly North and South and East.

As far as the precursor drugs, we had a long discussion here
about ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Those are where most of the
energies are applied. Those drugs that go into the manufacturing
process, many of them have totally legitimate purposes.
Pseudoephedrine, ephedrine have very limited medical purposes.
You'd be in a situation where you have to be very careful about
what you control. Those things that are there, we think presently
are controlled under existing regulations. We've not asked for any-
more legislation. I'm not an expert on chemicals, as my high school
teachers would tell you. I'll get information on that if you don't
mind,

Ms. LOFGREN. I understand that there are numerous totally be-
nign uses for some of these precursor chemicals. But this is an
emergency, and I'm wondering if not today, but later, if your De-
partment could analyze the pros and cons for society of taking a
closer look at controlling substances that have an innocent use but
also are required for methamphetamine labs. Certainly there would
be an inconvenience cost to society. I'm wondering whether that in-
convenience cost could possibly match the damage done by this
drug.

Mr. CoNSTANTlNE. The other answer is that where the resources
are invested, in my opinion, you are better off investing in all of
them as strongly as you can. It's not productive to get involved in
this cycle of investigating on one part of the problem this year, and
the next — you have these swings where you're just cutting the pie
into different pieces each year. I don't think that's a good strategy.
The idea is to be as strong as you can on all of the resources. Al-
though I'm new to this job, my past job dealt with local law en-
forcement

Mr, Heineman. Mr. Constantine, I don't like to break into this,
but we're going to have walk very briskly over to vote.

Mr. LoFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say one
thing quickly. A major issue in San Jose, which is a problem area
for drug use, is the number of kids that are unsupervised because
both their parents work. Kids get out of school at 1:30, they are on
the streets by themselves without supervision at age 11, and those
kids are getting into trouble. I understand the role of law enforce-
ment, I support it, but I also am aware that if we were to do a bet-
ter job at providing assistance to working parents and the school-
day were extended so that kids were engaged in positive activities,
the incidence of drug usage in that population would fall like a
stone.

Thank you,

Mr, Heineman. All right, this will conclude this panel. I think
right now we will have a 4-minute, and I believe we will have a
5-minute vote that follows, so I'll excuse Mr. Constantine. The sec-
ond panel will resume when we get back.



30

[Recess.]

Mr. McCOLLUM [presiding]. I understand, in my absence, that we
finished with Mr. Constantine's testimony, and Vice Chairman
Heineman recessed for the votes. They were on a few minutes ago.
We're going to have another set of votes in about 30 minutes or
less, so I would like proceed and get our next panel introduced and
up in front of us, if I could.

Our first witness for the second panel is Lt. Ed Mayer, a 20-year
veteran of the Jackson County Sheriffs Department located in
Medford, OR. Lieutenant Mayer is currently assigned to the team
commander of the Jackson County Narcotic Enforcement T^am
which is an interagency narcotics team comprised of municipal,
county, State and National Guard personnel. Lieutenant Mayer as-
sisted in the development of the Oregon drug strategy, and recently
was a participant in the formulation of a methampnetamine strat-
egy session sponsored by the U.S. attorney's office.

Our next witness is Sgt. John Sanchez, a 22-year veteran of the
Arizona Department of Public Safety. Sergeant Sanchez has held
several positions within the department including motorcycle offi-
cer and supervisor of the auto theft unit. He is currently SWAT
team leader and supervising the narcotics unit clandestine labs in
Phoenix, AZ.

Our third witness is Special Agent David Waller of the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement in Lakeland, FL. I'd like to par-
ticularly welcome my Floridian. Not that I want to in any way say
anything negative about Oregon or Arizona, but I do welcome you.

Special Agent Waller has spent 15 of his last 19 years in law en-
forcement combating major drug smuggling organizations in the
Southeastern United States. In 1994, Special Agent Waller was
nominated by the U.S. attorney for the IVIiddle District of Florida
as the State and local officer of the year for his work on meth-
amphetamine organizations.

I think we should begin in the order in which I read your intro-
ductions. There's no particular order, so we might as well do it that
way. So, Lieutenant, did I pronounce Mayer right?

IVIr. Mayer. Yes, you did.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Good. If you would let us hear from you. We'll
go through each of you. Your statements will be put fully in the
record. You may choose to summarize, whatever you wish to give
to us. Please proceed.

STATEMENT OF LT. ED MAYER, TASK FORCE COMMANDER,
JACKSON COUNTY NARCOTICS ENFORCEMENT TEAM, JACK-
SON COUNTY, OR

Mr. Mayer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and other members of the
committee. It's a great honor to be here, I must say. I don't believe
any of us quite understand how we were chosen to get asked to
come here today. Nonetheless, we very much appreciate it, thank
you.

In addition to talking about methamphetamine and its impact on
our local area in Oregon, I was asked at the last minute if I could
prepare briefly some information about methamphetamine, what it
is and how it effects the body. So, literally on the plane out, I was
putting together some notes on this, and I need to give a dis-



31

claimer, that obviously I am not a medical or pharmaceutical ex-
pert, but have somewhat extensive experience of dealing with peo-
ple under the influence of methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine, as has been indicated earlier today, is known
as street names such as "crank," "speed," "crystal," and "iet." Meth-
amphetamine is a stimulant. Methamphetamine is usually found in
powder form, and it ranges from white to off white to brown or to
light pink in color. The light pink is generally because of the proc-
ess of red phosphorous, one of the chemicals used, that has not
been totally cleaned in the process. Unfortunately, we even find it
in colors consistent with holidays. We have found methamphet-
amine bright red at Valentine's Day, green at St. Patrick's Day,
and it's our only belief that the reason that they are doing this is
to market it to the very young user.

Methamphetamine is ingested nearly any way that your imagi-
nation can allow you to get it into your body. It can be snorted, it
can be smoked, it can be injected, and many times we even hear
of it being sprinkled in your morning coffee and being taken orally.

Following ingestion, users experience a burst of nervous energy
and often an overwhelming feeling of euphoria, optimism, and well-
being. The high usually lasts 4 to 6 or 8 hours, possibly even longer
depending on the level of addiction and the potency of the drug it-
self. One of the key concerns about methamphetamine use is that
it is extremely addictive.

I like to break down the effects of methamphetamine into two
general areas, physiological and psychological, because it definitely
impacts both. The physiological effects include basically putting all
bodily functions into high gear. It creates extreme hyperactivity. It
is a vaga Lgonstrictor, an d it increases blood pressure rapidly. Hos-
pitairTrequently see overdose patients coming in with blood pres-
sure readings of 280 over 200 or higher. The high blood pressure
occasionally leads to cerebral bleeding, it increases your respira-
tion, and doctors are telling me of a condition called correaform
movements. Correaform movements are uncontrolled movements of
the arms, legs, and face muscles, and some of the people that are
having this are experiencing it so far for the duration, from the
time of its onset. Doctors tell me that they don't know if it will ever
go away for the rest of their life.

Under the influence of methamphetamine, people experience di-
lated pupils, it reduces their appetite, sometimes leading to mal-
nutrition. And methamphetamine use often leads to weak bones,
rotten teeth, and muscle and organ damage including enlarged
heart and failure of the liver and kidney.

The psychological effects are often to me the most damaging and
without a doubt the most dangerous to law enforcement personnel.
Two common behaviors that go hand in hand with methamphet-
amine use is^paranoia_§nd the propensity to use extreme violeng g..
Crank use leaosTO sleep deprivation, and it's the sleep deprivation,
where people go for days without sleeping — I've heard as much as
14 days without sleep — that leads to a form of mental illness that
is manifested as acute paranoia. The physicians that I have talked
to have told me that this paranoia may last for as long a 2 years
after the person has stopped using the drug. Hallucinations are
very, very common in people that use methamphetamine for any



32

period of time, and quite honestly, even some first time users hal-
lucinate. The hallucinations can be either visual or auditory.

Let me give you an example of one that we — a very tragic exam-
ple of one that came in just very recently to one of our hospitals
locally. It was a young teenager who came in with an eye condition,
and he was staring at the sun because he heard voices telling him
to stare at the sun because the sun was the light of God. He fried
his retinas, and he'll no longer be able to see.

Methamphetamine use leads to a lack of judgment, and this lack
of judgment can be either in a social setting, whether it's operating
a vehicle, a car, a truck, or machinery in an employment setting.
And the use of drugs seems to lead to, as I indicated, a lot of vio-
lence. With this there is a high tolerance of pain for those who are
using methamphetamine, and as a result, we are seeing marked in-
creases in crime rates in areas such as domestic and, child abuse,
and even homicides that are directly related to the methamphet-
amine use.

We never — well, I'd say hardlv ever — go on search warrants
without finding an abnormal number of weapons, whether it be
high-powered rifles, handguns, knives, what have you. Being from
Oregon, just about everyone has a weapon in their house whether
they are hunters or sportsmen. But I have to tell you, methamphet-
amine users are having weapons, up to two and three, in every
room in their house for protection. You can see how this propensity
for violence and the combination of paranoia is very dangerous for
law enforcement.

Next I'll talk about methamphetamine and its impact on my com-
munity. The Jackson County-Rogue Valley area is known for its
beauty and liveability. Such things as rafting and fishing on the
Rogue River, sightseeing at Crater Lake, and things that people
normally perceive as having a very high level of liveability. Unfor-
tunately, our community has literally come in contact with a can-
cer, and this cancer is methamphetamine.

I'll give you some statistics that I think kind of drive the point
home. It's very difficult to get statistics. The reporting is very dif-
ficult. Officers that deal with it on the street on a daily basis may
end up getting it reported to a State data base, but it's usually 9
months or a year before we really have a grasp for what's going
on. So recently, I did a study of charges, methamphetamine related
charges, at our local Jackson County jail which deals with only 18-
year-olds or older, so this does not address the youth. In 4 years,
methamphetamine charges rose 902 percent at the Jackson (Jounty
jail. A State department of services to children and families — this
is a State department that places children into protective custody —
tells me that locally 80 percent of their case load is methamphet-
amine related.

Probably one of the most sobering statistics, and probably one
that I am most concerned with, is that Jackson County has one of
the highest percentages of infants born exposed to methamphet-
amine of anywhere else in the State. These statistics are difficult
to be confirmed as accurate, because it all depends on the reporting
and the physicians and whether they decide to test or not. But, I'm
told that 13 to 20 percent of all births in Jackson County are now
exposed to methamphetamine.



33

There is an agency affiliated with the county health department
called Vital Links. They give counseling to pregnant women that
are addicted to drugs or nave just given birth to young children.
Their caseload 4 years ago was about 150 cases for referrals per
year, now there are over 800 referrals a year almost all related to
m eth amph etamine .

With this onslaught or this epidemic just getting started, we are
just beginning to see the major impact that it's having on edu-
cation, and its being described in the education area as a "crisis
in the wings." I frequently give talks to 9th grade health classes.
Every health class I talk to, which are a lot of them, I ask this
question, "How many of you either personally have used, have a
brother or sister that have used, or a friend, which you would con-
sider one of your best friends use methamphetamine in the last
month?" The least number of hands that go up is 50 percent, and
it goes as high as 90 percent.

The Mail Tribune is a local newspaper, sure methamphetamine
is such an impact on our community, last week the paper did a se-
ries of multipaged articles in each day for 5 days. I brought copies
of the pages that are applicable to the article on meUiamphet-
amine, and if any of you today are interested in having a copy of
that, I'll provide a copy to you.

This epidemic appears to me to be moving directly north and east
from the manufacturing source which is predominantly California! - '''^
Another consistency that I see is that the spread of the meth-
amphetamine problem is tied directly to the Mexican illegal alien
issue that we are experiencing up and down the west coast.

Methamphetamine is a tremendous drain on everyone's re-
sources. Locally, two-thirds of what we do in our task force is spent
dealing with the methamphetamine problem. I believe Mr. Con-
stantine hit the nail on the head, that we don't really pick a drug
to work. The drug finds us, and we go to that area literally the
drug of choice in your particularly area. This drain is not only a
drain on law enforcement, but is also a drain on our corrections
systems, our treatment and social services, and education systems.

There are a lot of solutions and strategies and discussions that
we've heard already today, and I'd like to throw my 2 cents' worth
in, if I could, regarding some strategies and solutions. I've recently
been involved with the strategic planning and development of a
methamphetamine strategy for the State as well as an overall drug
strategy for the State. Probably the number one thing that is a
common denominator that comes up time and time again is that
we have to gain control of our Mexican border if we are going to
make any kind of inroad here.

The North American Free Trade Agreement has literally opened
up that border to allow easy access from precursor chemicals to the
finished product. I'm told by the California Bureau of Narcotic En-
forcement Personnel that it has literally inundated them with the
precursor chemicals or final product. It's unfortunate, but this ex-
plains how those of us in the drug enforcement business perceive
NAFTA. It's kind of a joke that NAFTA stands for the Narcotics
Free Trade Agreement.

As indicated earlier today, the production and initial distribution
is primarily controlled by highly organized hispanic criminal



34

gproups. In California, the methamphetamine labs have become so
sophisticated that some are even like "time-share" methamphet-
amine labs. An organized hispanic group, whether it's by blood or
by their criminal association, can come in and rent a methamphet-
amine lab for a period of time. It's kind of like a condo, you can
rent it with or without sheets. In this case you rent it with or with-
out chemicals. It is so sophisticated that it has reached this level.
The methamphetamine labs are now producing 100-pound quan-
tities on any given cook.

To me, I like to equate the drug problem to an equilateral tri-
angle, if you will for a minute. To me, the base of the triangle has
to be education. I believe that's where we're going to get the biggest
bang for our buck over the long haul. And the other two sides of
the triangle have to be law enforcement for the supply end of the
formula, and the final side, and I feel a very important side, is
treatment. I believe depending on whichever President is in office
or which ever Governor is in office, it seems like their strategies
dictate the sending of a majority of the resources to one area or the
other. To me, the key isn't looking at the three sides of the tri-
angle, rather to look at where these triangles intersect. Every side
of the triangle touches the other two sides. We are now working
very closely with all sides. I think they need to find programs and
dump resources and grant money in areas where all three sides of
the triangle are coming together as opposed to working independ-
ently and battling for grant funds. To me, it just makes sense to
approach it from a systemic approach as opposed to an individ-
ualistic approach.

I'll give you an example. Locally, we're so inundated with this
methamphetamine epidemic that many of us fi*om groups such as
neonatal care units to children's services division to education,
treatment, emergency room physicians, health department, and law
enforcement officials came together to number one, educate each
other as to what the problem actually is. And number two, to figure
out ways that we can work together. I'll give you just a simple ex-
ample that has been tremendously effective. Previously, we would
go on a search warrant, and find a pregnant lady living in a drug
environment or using methamphetamine and treat them basically
like anyone else. But with a little education, we now immediately
refer that individual for counseling and follow up from the Vital
Links organization that I mentioned earlier to try to get them off
the drug and educate them as to what the drug is going to do to
the fetus. We have family members that have adopted drug babies
locally that tell horror stories about their "acting out" behavior and
their attention deficit disorders that they are battling now as a re-
sult of their addiction when they were born.

I believe that we work very well with Federal agencies. We have
DEA, FBI, and INS all represented in my community. However, I
believe that there is room for improvement. I'll give you an exam-
ple. It only makes sense to house local task forces and DEA offices
together. It'll force or allow you to share information or intel-
ligence. Both agencies often are working the same people and it
only makes sense to try to work more closely with local agencies
in that capacity.



35

In Oregon, we have support given to task forces throughout the
State from the National Guard. The National Guard has a counter-
drug program, and I understand that this has been debated heavily
on Capitol Hill as to whether that should continue or not. I can tell
you that if the National Guard was pulled out of our organization
it would be a real void. They do a tremendous job in supporting us.
They don't do actual law enforcement, but they do a tremendous
amount of support, and we would be hurting desperately if they
were pulled out.

It's my perspective and personal opinion, that in looking at the
Federal system, there appears to be a tremendous caseload bottle-
neck at the Federal prosecution level. We'll submit a case to the
Federal authorities, whether it be FBI or DEA, for consideration to
have that case adopted and prosecuted, and it appears that the big-
gest bottleneck is at the U.S. attorney prosecution level. The case
appears to literally get stifled at that point because of their case-
load, or lack of staffing.

An additional concern is that there appears to be inconsistencies
and fluctuating thresholds, in other words, varying quantities of
the drug before they'll accept it for Federal prosecution. We re-
cently had a cilicybian mushroom case that was over 20 pounds,
which is a lot of mushrooms, and locally the DEA wasn't inter-
ested, but it was being shipped to a Grateful Dead Concert in New
England, and that DEA office loved it.

A final way that I can see Federal agencies assisting local law
enforcement, is with drug enforcement in high schools. Obviously
most law enforcement officers don't look 18, it's difficult to find and
plant an informant into a high school. We have policies against
using informants under 18 years of age. An additional problem in
a small community is that everyone knows everyone, and it's dif-
ficult to get an informant enrolled into a school. If DEA or another
Federal law enforcement agency could develop a program where
they hire very youthful looking agents and loan them on a tem-
porary basis to local law enforcement, it would be a tremendous
benefit around the country to address some of the problems at the
high school level.

I firmly believe that the time to act is now to curb this meth-
amphetamine epidemic. If we don't become proactive, the effects on
our society will be devastating.

If I can bring anything to this subcommittee today, it's that
methamphetamine is having a tremendous impact on the day to
day lives of people living in my community, and that the breakup
and devastation of families is occurring every day. If we can use
this as a lesson, and do some proactive things to keep that from
happening elsewhere, it would be well worth our time. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Mayer follows:]

Prepared Statement of Lt. Ed Mayer, Task Force Commander, Jackson
County Narcotics Enforcement Team, Jackson County, OR

I. community in crisis — statement of impact

A. Destruction of families (two examples)

B. Impact on community

1. Local meth charges up 902% between 1991-1994.


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JRising scourge of methamphetamine in America : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, October 26, 1995 → online text (page 5 of 9)