New report shows Portland growing meth use tied to Mexican carte - KPTV - FOX 12

New report shows Portland growing meth use tied to Mexican cartels

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

As fast as officers seize it, drug traffickers can make more. They’re feeding a growing meth and heroin problem on Portland’s streets.

“It's also referred to as ice. But, often people use the word meth,” Larry Betcher, the program manager for the alcohol and drug treatment center at Providence Health, said.

Betcher has seen the effects of methamphetamine use during his nine years helping patients battle addiction.

“It wreaks havoc on your brain, on your family, on people around you,” he explained. “There's a pendulum that swings back and forth between uppers and downers, so we had a meth epidemic. That went away.”

Now, drug seizure numbers show that pendulum may be swinging back to an increase in meth use.

In 2013, drug enforcement agents seized 184 pounds of meth in Portland. In 2014, they seized 303 pounds. This year, agents say they’re on track to top both of those numbers.

One of the new concerns, they say, is that the meth isn’t all made locally.A newly released DEA report shows Mexican cartel links in Portland and Salem.

They are organizations that Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cam Strahm said are feeding meth and heroin into the state.

“They use the interstate system. They use whatever means of getting it to Oregon and through Oregon, because there's a population base that are methamphetamine users,” Strahm said.

It’s a moneymaker for the cartels supplying the drugs, and troubling for the agents trying to take them off the streets.

“The purities have gone up,” Strahm said. “The population base that are daily users has gone up.”

He said that’s why the agency’s drug seizure numbers are climbing, too, as local agents investigate, disrupt and try to dismantle a supply chain that starts thousands of miles from Portland.

“It's not a problem that's going to go away by a passive approach,” Strahm said.

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