Well, What Did You Expect?

I have noted in the past that attempts to reduce the consumers’ ability to purchase pseudoephedrine would likely have little impact on the manufacture of methamphetamines (see here as well). Further, that if anything it might increase the production. Now, via Radley Balko, we have this story about…wait for it, large scale production of methamphetamine in Mexico. How large scale? How about 187 pounds. Yeah, the politicians have made it harder to buy pseudoephedrine for legitimate purposes and cleaned up the methamphetamine problem….oh, sorry my mistake.

After years of raiding “redneck labs” and arresting local methamphetamine cooks, drug squads in Georgia appeared to be gaining the upper hand on the makeshift operations in 2004, when the number of busts declined sharply from a peak of more than 800 the previous year.

But the glow of success quickly faded as international drug cartels distributing a purer form of the drug known as “ice” rushed in to fill the void.

“The labs start to decline and you’re happy,” said Phil Price, special agent in charge of regional drug enforcement for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “But the imported meth has really hit us hard. … It’s cheaper now to buy it on the streets.”

And the idiot politicians made methamphetamine’s cheaper too. Apparently our pols fell asleep during economics class.

Price said the shift has made the drug so abundant that distributors now commonly “front” up to 2 pounds of ice to street dealers on credit. It also has turned the Atlanta area into a distribution hub for the East Coast, he said.

“Unfortunately, I think we’re going to go through what Miami went through with cocaine,” he said.

Yep, really important to keep mom from buying three bottles of a medicine containing pseudoephedrine so that we could turn Atlanta into the east coast distribution hub for methamphetamines.

Congress entered the fray by passing the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act in March as part of the renewal of the anti-terror Patriot Act, placing restrictions on retail pseudoephedrine purchases across the nation.

And they didn’t do a damned thing in the end. Now the drug is more prevelant, cheaper, and being made by much more serious criminal organizations. I tell ya’ with politicians like this who needs enemies.

At the moment, federal drug enforcement officials say most of the meth smuggled into the United States is produced in Mexico, using chemicals diverted by the ton from pharmaceutical companies in Asia.

For those of you who wanted me to go talk to a meth addict after my initial posts on that, please, read that quote again. They are diverting the products, that is pseudoephedrine, by the ton. So no more going out and buying hundreds of bottles of Sudafed and making a modest batch, nope now we have and industrial size production operation that is cranking (no pun intended) out the drug in quantities so that street dealers can be fronted two pounds on credit.

But even though the inmate population is down to 150, Wilson is bracing for the next wave of meth crime, convinced that the Mexican gangs that are plaguing counties to the south are even now reversing Sherman’s march on Atlanta during the Civil War.

“What we believe is going to happen is that we’ve become so strict on the purchase of pseudoephedrine … that we will see a lot more Mexican meth,” he said. “They’ll make it by hundreds of pounds. I know it’s coming.”

I’d laugh it wasn’t so damn pathetic.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Economics and Business, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Anderson says:

    Obviously, we must invade Mexico, as the only way to stamp out its WMD’s.

    Warehouses of Methamphetamine Distribution, that is.

  2. Steven Plunk says:

    Another proof that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. When will policy makers quit using emotional arguments and start using rational ones.

  3. Deb says:

    I mentioned this to a friend (who has a relative in law enforcement) and she said that it was still better because this way the police weren’t at risk busting local meth labs that might blow at any moment.

    Er, right. Because international drug cartels are so much safer to hang around with…

  4. MikeM says:

    Yet another argument for tightening up our borders and ports.

  5. Harry says:

    The Federal government had to step in, because stores were making such a mess of prevention. My local Walmart pulled all the generic pseudoephedrine off the shelves long before the new rule went into effect. They left the brand name Sudafed on the shelves, however. The pharmacy manager said people would steal the store brand, but not the name brand. I, being stupid, did not understand the depth of that argument. But I did understand that the Feds had to prevent the stores from making complete and utter fools of themselves.

  6. nedludd says:

    I am reminded of an old Delaware political reporter and columnist, Ralph Moyed.

    On more than one occasion, he said that he didn’t worry about “Do nothing politicians”. He got really afraid when they tried to do something…

  7. Richard Gardner says:

    Meanwhile, there are massive drug busts on the Canadian border (no meth THIS time, but lots of other drugs)

    And the Administration thanks Canada for stopping Meth precursors in the annual report on drug stuff

    “The Government of Canada (GOC) continued to effectively curb the diversion of precursor chemicals that are required for methamphetamine production to feed U.S. illegal markets. The GOC also continued to seize laboratories that produce MDMA/Ecstasy consumed in both Canada and the United States. The principal drug concern was the continuing large-scale production of high-potency, indoor-grown marijuana for export to the United States. The United States enjoyed excellent cooperation with Canada across a broad range of law enforcement issues and shared goals.”

    Why not admit that the War on Drugs is a mistake? Meth is horrible, but Mexican/Canadian meth is no better/worse than the home-grown version. Meanwhile we are made to feel like criminals to get a cold remedy.

  8. DC Loser says:

    The war on drugs is every bit a failure as prohibition. The sooner we realize it and the harm it’s done to our civil liberties the better we’ll be. Legalization is the lesser of two evils.

  9. Patrick McGuire says:

    The sad irony is that this issue might finally get Congress to do something serious about closing the border. Cheap labor isn’t a threat to them so maybe the meth threat will get them moving.

  10. Timray says:

    If we are forcing the manufacture of Meth into other countries….good, let them deal with the toxic wastes that sometimes ends up in the streets in our rural towns. If this issues causes the politicians to start to deal with our border security, good! It is about time they began dealing with reality rather than the pork barrel they seem to prefer.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    If we are forcing the manufacture of Meth into other countries….good, let them deal with the toxic wastes that sometimes ends up in the streets in our rural towns.

    Environmental problems do not respect borders…even with Michelle Malkin screeching about them.

    If this issues causes the politicians to start to deal with our border security, good!

    This has been a problem for longer than the border has been a problem. So this is just naive optimism, IMO.

  12. legion says:

    Congress doesn’t deal with problems unless they directly affect the Congresscritter individually. Especially in the wallet.

    Want cell phone records to be better protected? Go buy & publish a few ‘critter records. Want less gov’t surveillance of US citizens? Find a ‘deep throat’ in intel with tapes of ‘critter conversations. Want more effective procedures and more humane treatment in airport security? Push legislation forcing ‘critters to fly commercial.

  13. madmatt says:

    Tell me one aspect of the drug war that has been effective…no snark, just curious!

  14. TJIT says:


    The one aspect of the drug war that has been very effective is getting lots of money into the pockets of the various vendors that supply products to the drug warriors…..

    Aside from that it has been at the very best a complete flop.

  15. Ray says:

    Dose anyone besides me remember the meth wave of the 70’s? Drug dealers use to call it ‘crystal’ then (I’m not sure what meth is called today.) From what I remember, here in Minnesota the meth problem was overcome by vigorous law enforcement, not with a ban or reduction on the ingredients for meth that were legally obtained. It was good old fashioned police work that stopped the meth problem in Minnesota in the 70’s, not some foolish law that only punishes those that follow the law.

    Do you think that it’s the reduced availability of pseudo-ephedrine that is reducing the number of meth labs in America? No, it’s the effect of law enforcement actually raiding the labs and arresting those that produce and distribute meth that is having an effect. Let’s focus on finding and closing these labs and arresting those involved, as that actually works!