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

. (page 7 of 9)
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mation in. That's where it all starts, because law enforcement is re-
active. I don't think that anybody can say that it isn't because we
react to the problems that are occurring, unfortunately. Sometimes
we get a good hook on things before they occur, and then we feel
real good about that. The general thing is, though, we react. And
that's what makes it so tough.

Better cooperation between the law enforcement agencies again,
that's a lot of it, and that's been touched on. We cooperate very
well with DEA. DEA has been very good to us, they've helped us
a lot, and we've in conjunction have helped them. So, we've had
good rapport and good cases that have come out of this unit that
we are in at present.

I would like to basically just close with saying that this is an
issue that really affects everybody whether it's in the Western
United States or in the Eastern part, or wherever. Again, the prob-
lem with chemicals has to do with foreign market also. Unless we
can control something in that respect somewhat — ephedrine coming
from China, which we get on a consistent basis, coming through
our borders, it's going to be very difficult to do what we want to
do here. Unless we have some way of people being deterred by the
use and manufacture, whether it be by education by prosecution or
just by the use, there has to be a deterrent.

I, for one, feel that education is a good way to go, but people have
to be acceptable to that education whether it's a high school stu-
dent or whether it's a parent or whether it's just somebody at a
chemical company that needs to report that sale to whatever agen-
cy within that State. That has to occur.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Sanchez follows:!



44

Prepared Statement of John Sanchez, Arizona Department of Public Safety,
Phoenix, AZ



INTRODUCTION:

The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse for 1991 showed that an
estimated 5.2 million Americans, 12 years of age and older, have used
methamphetamine. Fecent studies show a 521 increase in the number of
emergency room episodes involving the abuse of methamphetamines.
Approximately 45% of patients treated for methamphetamine abuse
reported being dependent on the drug. Phoenix area emergency rooms
reported 281 cases in 1992 and 479 cases in 1993.

BODY:

I. Arizona D.P.S. Metamphetamine Statistics

A. DPS Criminal Investigation Bureau Seizures

1. 1993 - 20 lbs.

2. 1994 - 51 lbs.

3. 1995 - 120 lbs. (First siX months)

B. DPS Criminal Investigations Bureau Arrests

1. 1993 - 369

2. 1994 - 489

3. 1995 - 499 (First six months)

C. Cases Submitted to DPS Lab for Anaylsis (Excluding Phx.PD)

1. 1992 - 1.395

2. 1993 - 2,961

3. 1994 - 5,503 ( 294.5% over two year period)

D. Precursor Chemicals Submitted to DPS Lab for Analysis
(Excluding Phx. PD)

1. 1992 - 19

2. 1993 - 44

3. 1994 - 72 (278.9% over two year period)

B. Active Clandestine Labs Discovered
1. 1990 - 1995 - Approximately 170

II. Problems In Dealing With Users

A. High Violence Potential

B. Weapons Involvment

C. Potential for Infectious Diseases

III. Problems In Dealing With clandestine Labs

A. Explosions / Fires

B. Booby Traps

C. Contamination

D. Toxic Chemicals

B. Decontamination (Clean Up)



45

Decontamination / Clean Up (Dea/ Chemical Waste Management Stata)

A. FY 1993 - I 30.691.00

B. FY 1994 - $124,145.00

C. FY 1995 - 1122,821.00

D. Average - $ 4,500.00 per call



CONCLUSIOR:



What makes designer drugs attractive is the ease of
manufacturing and that chemicals and equipment are easy to get
or to substitute. Hethamphetamine can be ingested in any manner
the user chooses and the profit margin is higher. Labs can easily
be moved to prevent detection.

In order to help decrease the manufacture, trafficking, and use
of methamphetamine the following suggestions should be
considered. 1) Better control of precursor chemicals such as
ephedrine. psuedo-ephedrine, hydriodic acid, iodine crystals,
red phosphorus, and ether. 2) Better education for the general
public and legal system. 3) Better cooperation between law
enforcement agencies.



46

Mr. McCoLLUM. Thank you very much, Sergeant Sanchez. Agent
Waller welcome, and again, welcome as a Floridian. You may pro-
ceed to give us your thoughts.

STATEMENT OF DAVID WALLER, SPECLU. AGENT, FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, LAKELAND, FL

Mr. Waller. Thank you. Chairman McCollum, honorable mem-
bers of the committee, I would like to thank you for the opportunity
to appear before you to discuss the growing problem of meth-
amphetamine in Florida. We have a problem in Florida arising.

In the early to mid-1980's, methamphetamine was infrequently
seen by law enforcement in the State of Florida. Methamphetamine
laboratory seizures were rare throughout the State. In the late
1980's, an alarming increase in methamphetamine seizures were
noted, predominately coming in Polk County, FL. Additionally, in-
telligence information received throughout the State was that most
of the methamphetamine was coming from suppliers out of Polk
County. Geographically, Polk County is located approximately 60
miles east of Tampa, FL, and is largely a rural community.

Investigations conducted bv the Drug Enforcement Administra-
tion, Polk County Sheriffs Office and the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement revealed that methamphetamine manufacturers
from outside the State of Florida were manufacturing methamphet-
amine and then transporting the drug to Florida for distribution.
The methamphetamine was predominately transported by individ-
uals driving private vehicles and by long distance truckdrivers.

In early 1990, investigators from the three previously mentioned
agencies, along with city police agencies within Polk County,
formed a methamphetamine task force to combat the methamphet-
amine problem. Arrests and seizures occurred throughout Polk
County and surrounding counties. Most of those arrested were
prosecuted federally, due to stricter Federal sentencing guidelines.
Faced with the potential of longer sentences, more individuals
began cooperating with law enforcement. Law enforcement learned
that the laboratories were relocating from California and Oregon to
central Florida. Witnesses and cooperating defendants explained
that it had become too risky to transport the drugs across the Unit-
ed States to Florida. These laboratories were then set up in rural
areas of Polk and Lee Counties where the drug was then manufac-
tured. Several hundred pounds of methamphetamine was manufac-
tured by cookers who had traveled from California to Florida. Once
the methamphetamine was produced at the various laboratories, it
was then distributed throughout Florida.

I have been involved in the interviews of many individuals who
were associated with the distribution of methamphetamine. I have
been told that the effects of the drug are longer lasting than the
effects of cocaine, and that the drug of choice in central Florida had
changed from cocaine to methamphetamine. With the market for
methamphetamine firmly established in central Florida, other
groups became involved in the acquisition and subsequent distribu-
tion of methamphetamine. Various groups were subsequently iden-
tified, and their organizations disrupted by efforts of cooperating
law enforcement agencies. In most of the investigations conducted,
the origination of tne methamphetamine was from California.



47

One reason for the desire to acquire and sell this drug in the
Florida area is the phenomenal profits that can be realized from
the sale of methampnetamine. Numerous interviews have revealed
that methamphetamine could be obtained in the State of California
for between $5 and $8,000 per pound, and then immediately sold
in the State of Florida for between $20 and $25,000 per pound.

Today, law enforcement is faced with new problems involving the
distribution of methamphetamine. Now, groups of traffickers are
having methamphetamine mailed through various postal agencies
from California to the State of Florida. Additionally, groups are hir-
ing individuals to fly to California and transport methamphet-
amine back to the State of Florida via commercial airlines. An
added problem facing law enforcement is the apparent resurgence
of individuals attempting to manufacture methamphetamine in the
State of Florida. Within the past weeks, laboratories were seized in
the Florida panhandle, and as recently as this past weekend, law
enforcement officers seized yet another laboratory in Polk County,
FL.

Over the past 4 years, I have had the opportunity to speak with
numerous law enforcement officers throughout the State of Florida
regarding methamphetamine. In every case, I have been told that
methamphetamine is becoming increasingly popular with their
communities. With the popularity of methamphetamine and the
substantial profits realized, I predict that new groups will arise
around the State of Florida who will attempt to manufacture and
distribute the drug. The expenses related to the seizure and clean-
up of methamphetamine laboratories are substantial. Fortunately,
in most cases, as was previously mentioned, the Drug Enforcement
Administration takes the responsibility for the laboratory seizure
and disposal. The cost to local law enforcement to clean up and dis-
pose of these labs is phenomenal, and they cannot bear the ex-
penses. I would like to point out that in our investigations of meth-
amphetamine laboratories in the central Florida area that the
Drug Enforcement Administration office in Tampa, FL, has been
overwhelming in their support of State and local agencies.

With the increase of methamphetamine laboratory seizures in
the State of Florida, law enforcement and emergency response per-
sonnel should receive additional training regarding the potential
hazards associated with these laboratories. Hopefully we can learn
from the officials in Western States who have previously been in-
volved in the investigation of hundreds of methamphetamine lab-
oratories.

In addition to the education of law enforcement personnel, it is
imperative that the general public also be educated on the effects
of the drug methamphetamine. Most drug education efforts have
centered on powder and crack cocaine. Increased awareness of the
dangers of methamphetamine use will hopefully alleviate some of
the problems we now see with cocaine abuse.

One of the most important reasons for the success of the meth-
amphetamine task force is the availability of Organized Crime
Drug Enforcement Task Force funding for State and local agencies.
It should be noted that the Florida Department of Law Enforce-
ment, county and city law enforcement agencies in central Florida,
have been attempting for 3 years to have the central Florida area



48

designated as a high intensity drug trafficking area by the Office
of National Drug Control Policy. This area of Florida is impacted
not only by the methamphetamine problem, but also by a large
scale smuggling from Mexico, due to the large migrant population
which provides for easy access by smuggling organizations trans-
porting drugs from Mexico. The Florida Department of Law En-
forcement hopes that these funding sources will continue to be
available to State and local law enforcement agencies.

In closing, I would like to thank you on behalf of FDLE Commis-
sioner James T. Moore, and all the members of FDLE, for the op-
fjortunity to address you on the methamphetamine and the prob-
ems facing Florida today. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Waller follows:!

Prepared STATEME^fT of David Waller, Special Agent, Florida, Department of
Law Enforcement, Lakeland, FL

Chairman McCoUum, honorable members of the committee and Director Con-
stantine. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to dis-
cuss the growing problem of methamphetamine in Florida.

In the early to mid 1980's, methamphetamine was infrequently seen by law en-
forcement in the State of Florida. Metnamphetamine laboratory seizures were rare
throughout the state. In the late 1980's, an alarming increase in methamphetamine
seizures were noted, predominately occurring in Polk County, Florida. Additionally,
intelligence information received throughout the state was that most of the meth-
amphetamine was coming from suppliers out of Polk County, Florida. Geographi-
cally, Polk County is located approximately sixty miles east of Tampa, Florida, and
is largely a rural community.

Investigations conducted by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration,
Polk County Sheriffs Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement re-
vealed that methamphetamine manufacturers from outside the State of Florida
were manufacturing methamphetamine and then transporting the drug to Florida
for distribution. The methamphetamine was predominately transported by individ-
uals driving private vehicles, and by long distance truck drivers.

In early 1990, investigators from the three previously mentioned agencies, along
with city police agencies within Polk County, formed a methamphetamine task force
to combat the methamphetamine problem. Arrests and seizures occurred throughout
Polk County and surrounding counties. Most of those arrested were prosecuted fed-
erally, due to stricter federal sentencing guidelines. Faced with the potential of
longer sentences, more individuals began cooperating with law enforcement. Law
enforcement learned that the laboratories were relocating from California and Or-
egon to Central Florida. Witnesses and cooperating defendants explained that it had
become too risky to transport the drug across the United States to Florida. These
laboratories were then set up in the rural areas of Polk and Lee Counties, where
the drug was then manufactured. Several hundred pounds of methamphetamine
was manufactured by "cookers" who had traveled from California to Florida. Once
the methamphetamine was produced at the various laboratories, it was then trans-
ported and distributed throughout Polk County, Florida.

As law enforcement efforts increased, it was learned that the laboratories had
been moved from Florida to Missouri and later, to Arkansas, where methamphet-
amine was manufactured. These investigations led to the subsequent seizure of
those laboratories.

I have been involved in the interviews of many individuals who were associated
with the distribution of methamphetamine. I have been told that the effects of this
drug are longer lasting than the effects of cocaine, and that the drue of choice in
Central Florida had changed from cocaine to methamphetamine. With the market
for methamphetamine firmly established in the Central Florida area, other groups
became involved in the acquisition and subsequent distribution of methamphet-
amine. Various groups were subsequently identified, and their organizations dis-
rupted by efforts of cooperating law enforcement agencies. In most of the investiga-
tions conducted, the origination of the methamphetamine was from the State of
California.

One reason for the desire to acquire and sell this drug in the Florida area is the
phenomenal profits that can be realized from the sale of methamphetamine. Numer-
ous interviews have revealed that methamphetamine could be obtained in the State



49

of California for between five and ei^t thousand dollars per pound, and then imme-
diately sold in the State of Florida for between twenty and twenty-five thousand dol-
lars per pound.

Today, law enforcement in Florida is faced with new problems involving the dis-
tribution of methamphetamine. Now, groups of traffickers are having methamphet-
amine mailed through various postal agencies from California to the State of Flor-
ida. Additionally, groups are baring individuals to fly to California and transport
methamphetamine back to the State of Florida via commerc.al airlines. An added
problem facing law enforcement is the apparent resurgence of individuals attempt-
ing to manufacture methamphetanMne in the State of Florida. Within the past sev-
eral weeks, a laboratory was seized in the Florida Panhandle area, and as recently
as this past weekend, law enforcement officers seized another laboratory in Polk
County, Florida.

Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to speak with numerous law
enforcement officers throughout the State of Florida regarding methamphetamine.
In every case, I have been told that methamphetamine is becoming increasingly
popular within their conununity. With the popularity of methamphetamine and the
substantial profits realized, I predict that new groups will arise around the State
of Florida who will attempt to manufacture and distribute the drug. The expendi-
tures related to the seizure and clean-up of methamphetamine laboratories are sub-
stantial. Fortunately, in most instances, the Drug Enforcement Administration
takes the responsibiUty for the laboratory seizure and disposal. I would like to point
out that in our investigations of methamphetamine laboratories in the Central Flor-
ida area, the Drug Enforcement Administration office in Tampa, Florida has been
overwhelming in their support of state and local agencies.

With the increase of methamphetamine laboratory seizures in the State of Flor-
ida, law enforcement and emergency response personnel should receive additional
training regarding the potential hazards associated with these laboratories. Hope-
fully, we can learn from the officials in Western states who have previously been
involved in the investigation of hundreds of methamphetamine laboratories.

In addition to the education of law enforcement personnel, it is imperative that
the general public also be educated on the effects of the drug methamphetamine.
Most drug education efforts have centered on powder and "crack" cocaine. Increased
awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine use will hopefiiUy alleviate some of
the problems we now see with cocaine abuse.

One of the most important reasons for the success of the methamphetamine task
force is the availability of Oreanized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force
(OCDETF) fiinding for state and local agencies. It should be noted that the FDLE,
and county and city law enforcement agencies in Central Florida, have been at-
tempting for three years to have the Central Florida area designated as a High In-
tensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) by the Office of National Drug Control Pol-
icy. This area of Florida is impacted not only by the methamphetamine problem, but
also by large scale smuggling from Mexico, due to the large migrant population
which provides for easy access by smuggling organizations transporting drugs from
Mexico. FDLE hopes that these funding sources will continue to be available to state
and local law enforcement agencies.

In closing, I would again like to thank you on behalf of FDLE Commissioner
James T. Moore for the opportunity to address you today on the methamphetamine
problem facing the State of Florida and its citizens.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Well, thank you very much, Agent Waller. And
I could ask any of you this question, but I'm going to start with
you, since you just concluded in my State.

How does the methamphetamine production and distribution in
Florida compare to other designer drugs? Do we have more meth-
amphetamine than PCP or other chemically produced drugs that
are sold on the streets, or less, or do you know?

Mr. Waller. Right now what we are seeing is mainly the meth-
amphetamine labs. We have not seen a PCP lab, that I know of,
for numerous years, and it seems that it's all going to the meth-
amphetamine, which is what's being sold on the street.

Mr. McCoLLUM. In other words, you see marijuana, you see
crack and cocaine in some form or another, vou see methamphet-
amine and a little heroine. You don't see anything else, right?



50

Mr. Waller. Not at this time. Spotty at times, you wall see some
PCP things like that. But mainly it's going into the methamphet-
amine across the State.

Mr. McCoLLUM. I was curious — two of you have said that there
was some problem with — or some relationship to illegal aliens or
transients or migrants. Lieutenant Mayer, you alluded to that, in
fact, you didn't say how the connection was. What is your experi-
ence? Are we talking about most of the people who are producing
it are illegal aliens. Or as Agent Waller indicated, are we talking
about the fact that maybe some of the materials or precursors are
simply being shipped via those who are not here legally from Mex-
ico or wherever. What can you tell me?

Mr. Mayer. Most of the production is occurring in California that
impacts us, however, we do have some production, and quite hon-
estly, the production that we have seen in the last year has not
been Hispanic. From a California production standpoint, I'm told
by the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, it's heavilv
laden with illegal aliens. But, what we're seeing in our area is mid-
level and upper-level dealers that are illegal aliens. These aliens
are using very sophisticated ways of sending profits back to Mexico
to their families after making the sales. They are also using our
areas as distribution points since we're so centrally located up and
down the 1-5 corridor.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Would you care to venture an estimate, in a sort
of a percentage or quantified term, as to how many of these folks
at the middle and upper level are illegal aliens versus those that
are not?

Mr. Mayer. This would be a guess, but I would say that it would
be fair to estimate that anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of the
mid- and upper-level dealers are illegal aliens.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Sergeant Sanchez, have you seen this as an ille-
gal alien problem in any way?

Mr. Sanchez. Yes, and one of the situations in our State is that
we have a large influx of illegals because we are so close to the bor-
der. Again, we have a large black population, but I think we have
a mixture of those particular groups, and the problem that we see
is that the illegals know that unless we get them under some Fed-
eral charges, which is what's nice about working with DEA, they
more than likely are OR'd, or released on their own recognizance
which makes them free to go back across the border, and you basi-
cally lose prosecution on them unless we can hold them on some
type of large bond. We've had several people that were released —
I should say more than several — due to that fact, because they
know that they are illegal, they want to stay illegal, and they are
strictly over here to make money. They make the money that they
make and get on back across the border. There they are a rich
man, whether they have just been producing or they have just been
bringing it across.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Sergeant Sanchez, right now the minimum man-
datory sentencing laws of this country regarding the Federal level
of drug enforcement are 5 years for 5 grams of crack, 5 years for
500 hundred grams of powder cocaine, and 5 years for 250 grams
of methamphetamine apparently without any specificity as to the
form of that methamphetamine — if you're possessing it and are



51

thereby, assumed to be trafficking in that drug. Do you think that
those quantities are the proper numbers of grams for which you re-
ceive the mandatory 5-year sentence or do you think that we
should consider changing that minimum mandatory sentence for
methamphetamine from the 250 grams? Should we lower it or raise
it?

Mr. Sanchez. I would never consider raising it, because that is
one of the problems that we run into is that level of prosecution.
I would suggest lowering because of the fact, as we talked earlier,
a deterrent is the only thing, whether it's education or prosecution,
is the only thing that most people, especially now with what's hap-
pening in our society, really understand.

Mr. McCoLLUM. That is lowering, not the sentence, but lowering
the amount.

Mr. Sanchez. Lowering the amount, yes, the threshold.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Do you think that crack, cocaine, and meth-
amphetamine should be treated the same in terms of the amount
that it takes to get the same sentence?

Mr. Sanchez. Yes, sir, I do.

Mr. McCoLLUM. How about you. Agent Waller? What do you
think?

Mr. Waller. I agree. Once again, someone with the crack co-
caine cases that have come across over the years, and the bottle-
neck it's created, we're going to have the same problem.

Mr. McCoLLUM. How about you. Lieutenant Mayer?

Mr. Mayer. I would concur also. The fact that you possess a cer-
tain amount does not mean that you are not a major role player
in being a mid-level or upper-level dealer. I think that a lot needs


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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 7 of 9)