HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Planes, trains, and automobiles are a part of Alabama’s drug pipeline, according to officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
The drug cartel they say is having a significant impact on the state. WAFF 48 News is looking into the recent drug trends and the supply lines that connect overseas operations to our communities.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris works with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He’s spent 24 years in law enforcement, and he continues to fight the ever-changing war on drugs. He tells WAFF 48 that the number one drug problem across the state of Alabama is methamphetamine, also known as meth.
"We have transitioned from years ago to seeing homemade meth labs, to now the meth is coming from Mexico, to be honest. It’s supplied by the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico and it’s in the purest most potent form known as ice.”
Morris says Interstate 20 is the major thoroughfare for drug traffickers and our proximity to Atlanta is another major problem, adding that Atlanta is a major distribution hub.
The DEA sees meth as the long term systemic problem, whereas opioids and heroin are still problems, but not a big as meth. Morris says primarily because it’s so cheap to get.
“Drug cartels are smart. They use commercial airlines. I was just at the airport yesterday. There’s no limit to what they will do to get drugs into the hands of users. I tell young people all the time, they don’t care about you. They just want the $20 they can get from you and they will go to any lengths to get it to you,“ said Morris.
Lt. Michael McCoy with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has seen a dramatic change in the cost of ice. "Ice is so cheap and so easy to get around here. If they can get it across the border area and ship it UPS or FedEx, it saves them money instead of using a runner."
The cost of an ounce of meth has dramatically dropped. Just a few years ago an ounce cost around $1,200, but now the going rate is $300 to $400.
The biggest trouble spots for north Alabama, McCoy says, are DeKalb and Marshall counties.
So how are law enforcement agencies combating this growing drug problem?
The DEA is expanding its office in Huntsville and adding more than one dozen new agents to help fight the war on drugs. Seven of those new agents are coming from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. They will be deputized with the same authority as DEA agents.
ALEA is in its second year of having the regional drug task force. Seventeen agents work across north Alabama but they are adding two more agents this year.
Both agencies continue to institute new training for officers to stay on top of new trends, hoping to get new information about the supply lines that connect overseas operations to your community.