But a reduction in domestic production doesn't mean demand for meth has declined, just that the supply is coming from elsewhere - mostly from Mexico. According to the Brownsville Herald ("Officials fear new meth epidemic after record setting bust," June 28), police recently captured a 211 pound shipment of meth heading north from Mexico through the Rio Grande Valley, spotlighting an ironic trend where Mexican cartels have become the primary beneficiaries of the new law:
Brandi Grissom at the El Paso Times has good coverage of the portion of yesterday's hearing on drug policy ("Texas committee discusses drug enforcement, prevention," July 10):
In 2005, Texas introduced its own measures restricting the purchase of products containing the drug's precursors. That prompted a nearly 73 percent decrease in lab seizures in Texas, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
It also drove production south, where Mexican drug cartels began producing enormous quantities to meet the ever-present demand, officials said. The Valley, a major corridor for drug trafficking, naturally became a highway for meth distribution.
"Through various chemical control programs we have been successful in reducing the amount of meth produced in the U.S.," said Will Glasby, a local official with the DEA. "That's leaving the Mexican drug cartel as the primary source for the majority of the meth in the U.S."
Needs for treatment far outweigh the $38 million Texas spends for drug programs, said Mike Maples, director of mental health and substance abuse services at the Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas currently provides treatment to between 3 percent and 7 percent of the uninsured addicts who seek rehabilitation, he said.
"We have quite a large waiting list," he said.
But for every dollar spent on prevention, Maples said, Texas could save more than $5 from the negative economic impacts of drug use.
Gary Larcenaire, executive director of El Paso Mental Health Mental Retardation, said in a phone interview that prisons have become de facto treatment centers for drug addicts.
"We could use those resources to treat people in the community," he said.
Preventing drug use could also help reduce the demand for narcotics that fuels cartel violence in Juarez and across Mexico, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said in a phone interview.
Drug abuse may never stop, and law enforcement will have to control the supply, he said, but the criminal justice system isn't the "end all."