Proliferation of ‘Super Meth’ taking toll across America

(NewsNation) — The proliferation of methamphetamine produced in Mexican labs over the past decade has left law enforcement with their hands full, and a veteran reporter says it’s also a major driver of homelessness across the country

Sometimes called “Super Meth,” the Drug Enforcement Administration has been warning about the highly potent version of the drug since at least 2019, when officials said it was being seized along interstates in Louisiana.

Most recently, the drug was cited in a spike in overdose deaths in April 2022 in Tucson, Arizona, and was prevalent last year in Atlanta. Officials in Philadelphia also reported an increase in the drug.

The cheap, easy-to-make product has been a boon to Mexico’s drug trade, and authorities in some areas say it has prompted local U.S. labs to cease production.

Sam Quinones, a veteran journalist and author who has written two books on America’s fight against opioids and methamphetamine, chronicled the rise of the drug for an essay in The Atlantic in 2021.

Quinones joined “CUOMO” on Tuesday to explain how the chemical makeup of meth has changed and what it’s doing to people in America.

“What’s happening in Mexico right now is that the Mexican trafficking world now makes methamphetamine differently than it did in the past,” Quinones said. “In the last 10 years, they’ve had to switch to a new type of precursor ingredient … that’s very easily made and … they can get all the chemicals they need to make this drug in quantities that we’ve never had before had. seen in this country, and in powers that we have never seen either.”

Michael Nolan, an addiction counselor in Atlanta, told WSB-TV last year that the way the body and mind react to this ingredient, P2P, short for phenyl-2-propanone, is different than iterations previous methamphetamine. Users are not alerted by a racing heart or energy boost that they need to take a break.

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“People are taking so much of the drug and getting so high, it’s causing rapid physical decline and rapid mental health problems,” Nolan said.

Methamphetamine can cause paranoia, hallucinations, and even schizophrenia. The drug is up to 93% pure, up from 39% in 2008.

Quinones argues that the drug’s potency and effects are a “primary driver” of homelessness.

“It’s also keeping people on the street, who may be homeless for many, many other reasons, because once you’re on the street, this drug is so prevalent that everyone gradually migrates to using it, and once you start using it to use. , it’s very difficult to get off the street,” said Quinones.

Fentanyl, which is exacerbating the public health crisis, can be cut into other drugs to boost a dealer’s bottom line: they can sell a smaller amount but maintain the effects a buyer expects. The extremely lethal drug has been responsible for an increase in overdose deaths in recent years.

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The DEA seized a record 50.6 million fentanyl pills in 2022, which combined with the nearly 11,000 pounds of fentanyl powder equivalent to more than 379 million lethal doses. Authorities say two milligrams is enough to kill someone.

Just this week, US border officials seized more than 800,000 pills at the Nogales port of entry in two days. The Tucson area of ​​operations leads the nation in fentanyl seizures, with more than 18.8 million pills recovered since October.

“Both drugs are extraordinarily devastating in their own way and they’re more so, I say again, because the supplies of the stuff just covered the country,” Quinones said. “Never in our history have we had one source, meaning the Mexican trafficking world in this case, cover the entire country with one, let alone two drugs, but that’s the case today.”


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