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Meth Crimes On The Rise In Lewis & Clark County

HELENA While prescription drug crimes have dropped significantly in Lewis & Clark County over the past three years, for meth it’s a different story.

The Montana Board of Crime Control, which funds the Missouri River Drug Task Force, reported a drop in drug-related arrests between 2009 and 2013. There were 277 arrests in 2011 and 176 recorded in 2013.

Sergeant Cory Bailey, a detective with the Helena Police Department, said, "We do see a lot of prescription pill cases but currently the trend is pointing toward meth usage."

Last year, the task force performed 18 investigations, obtaining 171 illegal units of prescription drugs. In 2012, officials confiscated 623 over-the-counter drugs.

With meth crimes on the rise in Helena, that doesn’t necessarily eliminate the potential for other narcotics to take over.

Bailey said, "Currently, just seven months into the year, we’re seeing more meth cases but that number could go down. It could change to some other product."

Forty percent of complaints from the public and members of law enforcement have been meth-related this year. A little more than half-way through 2014 and the crime task force has seized 648 grams of the illegal drug.

Crystallized meth goes for about 200 bucks on the street. Bailey said much of the purified meth is coming from Mexico and South American nations.

He noted, "80 percent of the methamphetamine that comes into the state comes from Mexican or from the southern regions that’s due to more crimes being or it’s easier to produce in Mexico."

Bailey said it’s cheaper and easier to distribute, than it is in Montana. However, this trend isn’t solely limited to the Treasure State.

He said, "It’s seen nationally. Everybody is feeling the effects of drugs and meth."

The public aid continues to aid law enforcement in convicting illegal drug offenders.

Bailey noted, "If the public wasn’t there to help us or to try to protect their own community, we’d have a much more difficult time having these cases and convicting people on them."