(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
The U.S. is in the middle of a drug epidemic and Spokane is smack dab in the middle of a cartel superhighway. While that information is far from reassuring, the government is fighting back.
In a recent sting operation at a downtown motel, the DEA took six lbs of meth off the streets of Spokane. We sat down with the head of the DEA in charge of Eastern Washington and Idaho to find out where it's all coming from.
Spokane is a halfway point for meth distribution and other drugs in eastern Washington that are moving north into Canada, and east toward the Midwest. The starting point is Mexico.
"The Sinaloa Cartel has a pretty good affiliate, or network, here in eastern Washington," said Agent Tracy Simmons. The cartel uses its network to bring in batches of meth and other drugs into the smaller towns, and it all starts at the super labs.
"They will produce large quantities of methamphetamine for a very very low cost," Simmons said.
And they can sell it for a huge profit. A pound of meth in eastern Washington costs anywhere from $4,500 to $8,000 and the purity that goes with a majority of the meth they see is in the 90th percentile. Over the last five years, the Seattle division of the DEA has seen a 300 percent increase in methamphetamine seizures. "We're very busy, we're very busy," Agent Simmons said about his team of dedicated law enforcement professionals.
The same groups that are trafficking the meth are also bringing in heroin from Mexico which can sometimes be laced with Fentanyl which is a powerful synthetic pain killer, a concoction known on the street as "China white" and combining these two drugs is a recipe for disaster
"It can really get a hold of these young people and before they know it their lives can be ruined," Agent Simmons stressed.
As for the major meth bust this week, the DEA says they can't comment on any ongoing investigations.