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Riverside’s meth journey

Published On: 10-01-2015 in Category: addiction, addiction treatment, recovery, treatment centers


In the late 1990s, Riverside emerged as the “methamphetamine capital of the world” and maintained the title up until the late 2000s. More recently, even though numerous meth ‘cook houses’ have been eliminated and stringent laws have been tightened, demand for the drug can still be traced back to Riverside.

The Riverside and San Bernardino County area have often been referred to as the “methamphetamine capital of the United States.” Due to the numerous methamphetamine laboratories located in the district, Central District is classified as a major source of meth production and availability. These laboratories ranged from “super labs” that were capable of producing 10 pounds of finished product per cook, all the way to small-scale laboratories producing minor limited quantities.

The Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) had frequented the area as most of the “super labs” were supervised by them and the district provided them a convenient destination and shipping point for smuggled methamphetamine produced originally in Mexico.

This era also saw the introduction of crystal methamphetamine (ice), which is a more potent form of meth with purity levels estimated to be all the way up to 85 to 100 percent. It undergoes additional refinement to remove impurities. The Asian criminal gangs in the area dominated the sale of ice, receiving their powdered meth supply from Mexican DTOs.

Methamphetamine incidents accounted for 41 percent of drug-related law enforcement actions in the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (LA-HIDTA) in 1999. This represented a 23 percent increase from 1998. Most of these methamphetamine-related law enforcement efforts were targeted towards laboratory operations.

Meth is known to create a false sense of well-being and positive energy, making users push themselves and their bodies further than they are actually supposed to. Therefore, following the euphoric high, a mental and physical breakdown is quite common as the effects of the drug start to wear thin. Frequent use often leads to weight loss as it diminishes the sense of hunger. Further adverse effects also include disheveled sleeping patterns, hyperactivity, nausea, delusions of power, aggression and irritability. Abuse of the drug can lead to insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia. In extreme cases, death is a major possibility.

Despite the serious consequences, methamphetamine use remained high between 1994 and 1997 as admissions to facilities for meth treatment rose from 8,627 to 10,764, according to CADDS.

Nearly 400 pounds of methamphetamine were seized in June 2000 from a super-lab bust in Riverside County, making it one of the largest laboratory seizures of the county during that year. The large amounts of methamphetamine recovered were found out to be destined for distribution in the eastern United States. Just the cost for cleaning up ground contamination from residual released at the particular laboratory site was estimated to be at $60,000. Mexican criminals were suspected to be responsible.

It is important to realize that every pound of methamphetamine produced renders five pounds of toxic waste that has often been dumped into waterways or sewage systems. In 1999, the state of California spent almost half of its budget on decontamination of areas in the Central District.

In 2002, Riverside and San Bernardino areas were named the methamphetamine capital by the Los Angeles Times. The Palm Springs Desert Sun seconded the statement. Later, the Kansas City Star and the Los Angeles Times again claimed Riverside County alongside Jackson County to be the meth capital in 2003.

More recently, just a couple of years back, federal agents busted another large-scale crystal methamphetamine lab and a marijuana growing operation in Riverside, seizing chemicals and drugs worth more than $5 million. Authorities searched two other residences as well, one of which contained a marijuana growing operation with 300 marijuana plants.

Even though raids and seizures have reduced considerably in Riverside since its days of being the methamphetamine capital, occasional meth lab busts have been quite large-scale. The point remains that even though numerous labs have been extracted out of Riverside alongside more stringent policies, the hunger for meth still prevails.

The Riverside Drug Treatment Rehab Center includes customer service initiatives to make the process of choosing and being admitted into a facility relatively easier. We fully understand the pressure and stress that comes alongside the process of recovery. This is why we attempt to ease out the process as much as we can. For more information, call us right at any time.

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