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Why a surge of meth is hitting Indianapolis neighborhoods

7.17.16–Madeline Buckley, IndyStar

At the depths of his addiction, Brandon George knew he could save money by ditching heroin and getting high on methamphetamine instead.

The Indianapolis man could spend $150 to $200 a day on heroin, or he could slash the costs by using meth, spending about $50 each day.

“It’s stupid cheap,” said George, 35.

While heroin and opioid abuse continues to be a scourge across the state — grabbing the focus of law enforcement, especially in rural areas — police in Indianapolis are seeing a “significant increase” in meth use, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Capt. Robert Holt said.

The trend has held for about five years, said Holt, of the covert investigations branch. Meanwhile, Indiana State Police investigators say they are seeing a downward trend in the number of home-grown labs.

A factor at play? An influx of meth from Mexican cartels into the Indianapolis area.

While the volume of marijuana from Mexico has declined in recent years, cartels are now flooding the area with heroin and meth, Holt said.

“They are pretty savvy in picking up what types of drugs to import in the U.S.,” Holt said. “Heroin and meth probably have most addictive properties, and they are taking advantage of that to ensure repeat customers.”

Meth use is not at the epidemic rates of heroin, Holt said. Heroin and opioid use, in particular, have ravaged rural Southern Indiana communities, where HIV infections rapidly spread last year.

But meth is still drawing attention from Indiana lawmakers, who passed laws that seek to make production here more difficult. A law that allows pharmacies to limit the sale of pseudoephedrine, a common meth ingredient, to some customers went into effect July 1.

Holt also noted that imported meth has been selling at lower prices than law enforcement would expect to see — to the point where it’s less cost-effective to manufacture it here.

Indeed, State Police investigators will seize fewer meth labs this year than last year if the trends continue, said 1st Sgt. Don McKay with the State Police meth suppression unit.

Read more here.