TPD says meth labs are almost non-existent in Tucson - Tucson News Now

TPD says meth labs are almost non-existent in Tucson

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Border Patrol says they seized nearly double the amount of methamphetamine from 2011 to 2012.

1,838 pounds in 2011.  3,430 in 2012. 

Almost all of that was on the southwest border.

But looking behind the numbers, we're getting an interesting story about the meth problem.

Tucson is unique among many American cities and towns.

Police say there are virtually no meth labs.

Officers says it's not because people have stopped using the illegal drug, but because Mexico, and its meth supply, is just an hour down the road.

Plus, local authorities say Mexican meth is of a better quality. 

U.S. agents and other law officers seize meth pretty regularly along the U.S. border, especially in Arizona.

Over just the past week, meth has been found in buckets of chicken.

That load was seized at the Border Patrol's Interstate-19 checkpoint just south of Tucson.

Customs and Border Protection agents at Lukeville found meth hidden in the walls of an ice chest that was partially filled with seafood.

"They strap it to their body. They put it in the side of food bags, inside their luggage. They try different methods. It's just a matter of getting adjusted to the trends and just being able to do our job and detect things," says Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agent Crystal Amarillas.

In fact, the Border Patrol says a 23-year-old United States citizen was arrested over the weekend at the I-19 checkpoint with nearly two pounds of heroin taped to his body.

As for meth, in Tucson police say they are seizing more of it.

"There is an increase in meth seizures and that's not necessarily due to more meth being in the city, but just more to do with an increase in our training and some technology that's helping us to catch more of these guys more often," says Tucson Police Sergeant Chris Widmer.

He says one thing officers hardly ever see in Tucson though is meth labs, the places where it's made.

"Due to regulations that have come in the past few years meth is very difficult to make here in the United States. They don't have the same regulations in Mexico. So it's a lot easier to make there and we've seen that the quality of meth coming from Mexico has turned out to be a lot better than any meth that's still being made here in Tucson or in Arizona," Widmer says.

He says cities and towns in other states, away from the border, have many more meth labs.

"The reason is because for meth to get across the border and get an hour north (to Tucson) is somewhat feasible. But to get it past the border, past Arizona and into other states, across to other states, a lot of that methamphetamine is getting seized," Widmer says.

He adds that it's safe to say that a lot of the burglary and fraud, such as check washing, in Tucson is related to drugs such as meth.

However, Widmer says there has not been a big increase in those drug-related crimes in Tucson.

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