News Release

SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB

DATE: January 14, 2003

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108

 

METH STRIKE FORCE REPORT CARD SHOWS MODEST BUT STEADY REDUCTIONS IN METH PROBLEMS

SAN DIEGO - In years past, San Diego had the unfortunate distinction of being called the "methamphetamine capital of the country." Since the inception of the Methamphetamine Strike Force in 1996, that dubious title is no longer valid.

Today, the San Diego region is experiencing positive and steady gains in the fight against methamphetamine. The evidence is in the Methamphetamine Strike Force Status Report and Report Card presented by Meth Strike Force co-chairs to the Board of Supervisors today.

"Although the indicators are mixed, with both increases and decreases, the report shows a slowed trend of meth use and related problems overall. This trend can be attributed to the persistence of the Methamphetamine Strike Force over the past six years," said Second District Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "There has been a decrease among juvenile arrestees testing positive for methamphetamine and the Report Card shows methamphetamine availability down by 4% percent."

Law enforcement officials throughout the county have been training retailers to recognize when someone buys supplies for a drug lab. Retailers are also learning the laws restricting the sale of needed precursor chemicals. "By decreasing availability of the key ingredients, the labs can't produce methamphetamine. Through the efforts of the Strike Force, the San Diego region is making progress toward cutting off those supplies, educating the
public and reducing the problem," added Jacob.

"San Diego is holding the line in the fight against methamphetamine and the related problems that spill out into our communities," said Rodger G. Lum, Ph.D, Director of the County Health and Human Services Agency and co-chair of the Methamphetamine Strike Force. "For years, San Diego has had a high incidence of methamphetamine use. It is interesting to see that the activity has shifted to other areas of California. Although there has been a 6% increase in adult arrestees testing positive for meth last year, San Diego now ranks third behind Sacramento and San Jose in adult arrests for methamphetamine."

Twenty-six labs were seized in the county during 2001. That's roughly two percent of the statewide total, and a miniscule portion of the 12,562 meth labs and dumpsites seized nationwide. "Despite the smaller number of labs discovered in the County, methamphetamine is still readily available," said Jack Drown, Undersheriff, San Diego County Sheriff's Department and co-chair of the Methamphetamine Strike Force. There are large meth labs being found along the San Diego/Tijuana border region and throughout the nation" said Drown.

"We are building on our successes in the fight against methamphetamine and will continue to work with other counties, sharing information and implementing expanded collaboration projects in collaboration with law enforcement and community organizations that will include a merchant education campaign," said Dr. Lum. The Meth Strike Force maintains a toll-free Meth Hotline for people to anonymously report illegal drug activity or receive a confidential referral to a treatment program at (877) NO 2 METH (619-662-6384) or on website at www.no2meth.org. Of the calls received on the Meth Hotline since it began in December 1996, there have been 137 arrests and 63 convictions to date, representing a conviction rate of 46%. The website is an effective mechanism to provide information to the community and also accepts anonymous and confidential meth crime reports. The Hotline has received 61 reports that have resulted in referrals to law enforcement for further action

Much of the success in the battle against methamphetamine in the San Diego region has been through the collaborative efforts of the multi-disciplinary Methamphetamine Strike Force, initiated in 1996 by the County Board of Supervisors, at Supervisor Dianne Jacob's request. The 70-member organization includes local, state, and federal representatives from public health, law enforcement, judiciary, education, treatment, prevention, and intervention agencies. The Strike Force seeks to raise public awareness of meth problems; leverage resources through inter-agency cooperation; increase understanding of how to integrate health and enforcement strategies; and attract new, methamphetamine-specific, resources to the San Diego region.