U.S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration
Methamphetamine Situation in the United States

Administrator's Message

In June 1994, the law enforcement community was starkly reminded of the violence that surrounds methamphetamine trafficking and the changing nature of the methamphetamine trade that is spreading across the United States. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Richard Fass, acting in an undercover capacity, was attempting to make a purchase of methamphetamine in a Glendale, Arizona, strip-mall when he was ambushed, shot, and killed by four methamphetamine traffickers whose sole intent was to rob him. This incident ended in violence and tragedy, as do so many of the cases involving methamphetamine.

Law enforcement officers are not the only ones to suffer from the violence and danger associated with methamphetamine innocent victims all too often are brought into the fray. Over the past year, two separate methamphetamine-related tragedies have captured the public's attention. First, during the summer in New Mexico, a father, while high on methamphetamine, beheaded his 14-year-old son. Second, in Aguanga, California, in December 1995, three children - all under the age of four - were burned to death in an explosion and fire inside a mobile home believed to have contained an illegal methamphetamine laboratory. These horrific incidents help to reinforce our dedication to protect our citizens by reducing the availability of this dangerous drug. The current Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) statistics give statistical evidence of the rapid growth of the methamphetamine problem and the tragic results that are occurring from it. In several cities, methamphetamine-related deaths are up over 50 percent in the past 3 years.

As this report shows, methamphetamine production, trafficking, and abuse are on the rise. This expansion of the methamphetamine trade is being driven, in large part, by the extensive involvement of criminal organizations from Mexico. These organizations often control all facets of the traffic, from production to retail distribution, in many areas of the western United States and that influence is spreading. In some areas of the country, methamphetamine is now the "drug of choice" surpassing cocaine.

Drug law enforcement agencies are responding in force to the increase in methamphetamine trafficking. DEA is supporting State and local drug law enforcement authorities in combating the distribution of methamphetamine on the streets of our country. Two agencies in particular - the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) and the California Narcotic Officers' Association (CNOA) - have been in the forefront of California's decade-long struggle with methamphetamine and have been very effective in dismantling methamphetamine trafficking organizations and their laboratories. Moreover, these two groups have been instrumental in focusing attention on what has become a national problem. A national conference was held in February to address these issues and to develop a comprehensive methamphetamine enforcement strategy in cooperation with our Federal, State, and local counterparts. Again, both the BNE and the CNOA made valuable contributions to the conference and to the national strategy.

Thomas A. Constantine