Meth in Colorado is a major issue. It is one of the top ten states for meth use and is only increasing in users and overdoses every year.
Meth in Colorado
There have been many drug busts as of late in an attempt to combat the surge of the product being brought in. It is a war against drugs here for law enforcers. In 2017 alone, there were nearly 300 people from the state that died from meth use. When it comes to the drugs that are being used in Colorado, heroin, and weed are on top. It is meth that is ruining the most lives, however. The state closed down it’s largest treatment facility even though meth admissions doubled from 2013-2017.
The heroin and cocaine users that once strictly stuck to one drug are also adding meth to the mix. This is known as dual diagnosis, where a person is addicted to two substances at the same time. So when someone going through treatment for cocaine begins to recover, they’ll start using meth more. This can also occur in the reverse. This makes treating addiction much more challenging.
Where is Meth in Colorado Coming From?
There are not generally meth labs in Colorado. Much of the drug is imported into the state. It usually comes with a drug shipment that includes heroin. Meth that is making it’s way to Colorado is coming from Mexico primarily, it is mass-produced in super labs. This is ironically an effect of legalizing marijuana in states like Washington and Colorado. Marijuana used to be imported through Canada and Mexico. When the marijuana market dried out for Mexico, they started building up meth labs to import the drug in lieu of the weed business they lost out on. Police arrests for possession of meth have almost tripled from 2013-2017. The HIDTA drug task forces said that they have seized more meth in 2017 than they had the year before.
Meth Laws in Colorado
Colorado and its laws on controlled substances make it a crime to use, possess, or sell meth. There is one prescription drug on the market that includes 5 mg of methamphetamine. This is legal but only prescribed for narcolepsy, ADHD, or obesity. There are other prescription drugs that are as effective and less addictive so the drug is rarely prescribed. So if this drug hasn’t been prescribed to you, your use of meth is illegal.
What Will Happen If You’re Caught with Meth
There are varying degrees of penalties with meth. They would be determined by whether you’re using it or selling it. Using it is a level 2 drug misdemeanor, which will usually be a fine, ranging from $50-$750. It may be the case that you’re caught for the first time. A first-time drug offense can put you in a drug diversion and treatment program. If you complete it, the drug charges will be dismissed. If you’re caught possessing meth, you may get a year in jail or a fine of up to $100,000. There is also a drug offender surcharge in Colorado that can be anywhere from $1,500-$4,500. Selling meth in Colorado is a felony drug offense. You will usually get 6 months to 32 years in prison. This largely depends on how much meth you had. Also, if you sell to a minor that is at least 2 years younger than you. The amount of meth you possessed will also be a factor.
How Meth is Getting in the Way of Opioid Addiction Treatment
At recovery centers in Colorado for meth and other substance addictions, there is a growing concern. Opioid addiction in Colorado is a major concern with the death toll for overdose deaths increasing dramatically throughout the years. When someone is seeking treatment for their opioid addiction, it is challenging enough. What addiction specialists are finding is that people are using meth alongside of heroin or prescription painkillers. This creates a more complex disease which is harder to recover from. Admissions for methamphetamines doubled between 2013-2017. Figures reveal that meth-related treatment admissions have been on the rise over the past five years. Usually, dual diagnosis wouldn’t be so common but it seems that heroin users are also drawn to using meth as well.
Melissa McConnell is a counselor who said this about people who came in for treatment, “They start to get off the opiates, but their meth use increases.”
In situations like this, it’s likely that an outpatient service isn’t enough. There is a need for impatient services in order to manage meth addiction in Colorado. This is due to the challenges of stabilizing patients who are using meth.
Colorado Drug Treatment as Punishment
Being charged with the possession of transferring meth is a level 4 drug felony. In this case, you may be able to have charges reduced. This is something unique to Colorado and is known as a “wobbler” drug sentencing. This crime is interchangeable as a misdemeanor or felony. For those who are eligible, you get the opportunity to defer the felony sentence and get drug treatment instead. If you comply throughout treatment and follow the other conditions, you’ll have a reduced charge. This saves you from a far greater fine and prison time. Your eligibility is based on a few things. You had less than 2 grams of meth on you and you’ve never been convicted of a violent crime before. You will not have had two or great felony drug convictions prior to the arrest. This would include felonies that were reduced to misdemeanors. If you sold or possessed meth that was intended for selling, you won’t have eligibility for “wobbler” sentencing in Colorado.
Common Use of Meth in Colorado
Colorado has seen a rise of meth use and it has become quite common for people to use it. It’s cheaply priced and easy to get. This is what makes it so insidious. Directors running state-run meth treatment programs say that it’s extremely challenging to treat for meth addiction. Colorado figures show that meth-related admissions in treatment centers have risen every year for the past five years. Not only that but users are combining opioids and cocaine to the mix. All of these drugs are extremely addictive, creating a greater challenge with addiction.
How Meth is Being Made Today
Contrary to the portrayal of meth production in popular TV dramas, the meth in Colorado these days is rarely cooked up in neighborhood basements from local drugstore ingredients. Instead, it is mostly imported, often transported along with heroin. “I would say almost 100 percent of our meth comes from Mexico,” says Tom Gorman, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Much of it is mass produced there, he says, in “super labs.” The drug’s continued impact shows up in police statistics. Denver arrests for possession of meth nearly tripled in 2017 compared to 2013. The amount of methamphetamine seized by HIDTA-funded drug task forces across Colorado, as well as by Colorado state patrol officers, went up sharply from 2016 to 2017.
Meth Overshadowed by Other Substance Problems
Colorado has problems with many different substances. Heroin, alcohol, and marijuana are at the top of the list of the most used drugs. Meth has been a problem for a long time and it is still considered the #1 drug problem in Colorado. Many addiction treatment centers in Colorado worry about the kind of patients they’re seeing. While they have the necessary tools to help patients, dealing with someone who has multiple addictions, known as dual diagnosis, is challenging. They are more difficult to stabilize and there is a concern that addicts won’t survive. Many times, a client will drop out of programs and they’re never seen again.
The Ease of Buying Meth Paraphernalia in Greeley, CO
A pastor took it upon himself to do a video recording of how easy it is to obtain a pipe for meth use in Greeley. Perhaps what is even more shocking is that the meth pipes are being sold in close proximity to schools. The storeowners were perfectly happy to sell the pastor the pipe until they noticed they were being filmed. At this point, they would refuse to sell the pipe. The pipes are in plain view and sometimes sit right at the counter. The video shows that gas stations and individual general stores are openly selling glass meth pipes.
The Colorado Meth Project
This alarming video was put together by the Colorado meth project. This organization is desperately trying to educate teens on the dangers of using meth even one time. It’s availability and affordability make it particularly alluring and it is well-known as something of a harmless party drug. What is often overlooked is that meth is highly addictive. It changes the way a person thinks and because teens are still developing their brains, meth use can be even more detrimental to them. Their slogan is ‘not even once’ with their message being that even one try can ruin your life. They inform teens with the facts about meth so they can make an informed decision on whether or not they should try it or not.
Meth Dealers Using a Daycare as a Front in Casper Springs
There are a variety of ways that people are dealing meth to the public. The money is lucrative and gives some addicts the chance to use it as often as they want. There were two people arrested during a standard welfare check. The people were claiming welfare while running an unlicensed daycare in Casper Springs. The lady was running the daycare under a false name and had many outstanding warrants for her arrest. They refused to hand over a two-year old boy they were watching when police uncovered the truth. Police eventually retrieved the boy and the woman was arrested. When they went through the house, police found the black tar heroin, cocaine, 550 prescription pills, brown heroin, and methamphetamine. Officers later discovered a woman named Sarah Richmond was running a “daycare” under a false name. The woman’s real name is Anna Brimm and has outstanding felony and misdemeanor warrants. This is just one example of the corruption that circles around drugs like meth in Colorado.
Meth Trafficking in Colorado
The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force have busted many large meth drug rings in the state. They recently arrested 17 people on 124 charges. They had methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin and were apprehended in Larimer County. The 17 suspects have been charged with felonies such as money laundering, possession of illegal weapons, and man narcotics-related felonies. The investigation to bring this particular ring down began in the middle of 2017. Most of the suspects involved had previously been convicted of narcotic-related charges. They were tied together as a group through many man-hours and incidents that matched. When they found the drugs, the task force seized the following:
- 2.7 pounds of meth.
- 4.7 ounces of fentanyl.
- 2 ounces of heroin.
- 1.4 pounds of marijuana.
- 1.1 pounds of marijuana concentrate.
- 35 prescription opioid tablets.
- Small amount of mushrooms.
- 4 illegal forms of firearms.
The suspect’s methods of trafficking were standard. They were not all driving together and they came from different directions. Some of the suspects started from Phoenix and went to Denver and then to Larimer County. Other went the route of California to L.A. to Denver and then to Northern Colorado. The task force is deeply committed to cutting out the meth drug rings as well as the small time dealers on the streets. They have said that residents have been extremely helpful in cleaning up streets one neighbourhood at a time.
Interstate Meth Operation-Meth Court Case Begins
The trial of the interstate methamphetamine trafficking operation that occurred in Colorado will begin soon. Pounds of meth were ferried across the state to be distributed in both Casper and northwest Wyoming. The one woman and four men involved are all residents of Colorado.
Trial for Meth Drug Ring Sentences Criminals to Highest Degree
Gasca-Nieto shows great remorse in court for his involvement of bringing meth into Colorado. The judge was sympathetic to his reasoning but said he made the choice to bring many pounds of methamphetamine from Colorado into Casper. He was given 10 years of prison and five years of supervised release. The suspects have pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute meth and other drug related counts. They are all likely to spend at least 10-12 years in prison as per the federal sentencing guidelines. They were caught by an undercover agent who conducted a controlled buy of meth. The suspect that sold the drugs to the agent was under surveillance. She was getting the meth from Denver and re-distributing it to Casper and Cheyenne. A massive meth seizure include 37 suspects being charged in Colorado. The bust involved two other states and there was a total of 141 pound of meth seizure. The ring had been operating since at least July of 2015. Meth was being transferred through Arizona, Colorado and California. This was good news according to experts who have seen what damage meth has done in Colorado. Taking out 37 dealers is considered a big victory for the state.
Meth Contamination and the Colorado Housing Market
A couple purchased a home in a nice area at a decent price. It had been remodeled and painted and they thought it was their dream home. The contract was signed after the home inspection. Upon moving in, they found two syringes hiding in a window well. They moved all their things out immediately and never lived in it. This is a familiar story. Homes being contaminated by methamphetamine in Colorado neighborhoods. This particular contamination came from people using meth as opposed to manufacturing it. There are very few meth labs in Colorado, as it doesn’t make financial sense when the Mexicans are willing to sell it for cheap. Still, even meth use can cause contamination. The house that was sold to the couple did test positive for meth contamination and they haven’t stepped foot in it since they found out. The cleaning costs are high to clean up the contamination so currently; they’re paying over $1,000 a month for a house they can’t live in. The couple were expecting a baby but miscarried. It is not known if the contamination was related to the misfortune. For anyone buying a house in Colorado, there are meth-contamination tests that can determine if the home had users inhabiting it. The problem in Colorado with meth contamination is common enough that a statute took effect in 2005. The state health department authority has set standards for cleaning up properties. The procedures include sampling, analyzing data, cleaning up properties and reporting test results. There is a statute that requires a seller to disclose past meth use or manufacturing at a property.
Homebuyers Determining if Meth was Made or Used
There are statutes designed to protect home buyers from buying a home that was a meth lab or where people used the drug. They don’t always help though. Law enforcement agencies have had challenges defining a drug lab based on the description in the statute. So when meth has been used, police may not report it because it doesn’t match the statute description. This means the home isn’t subject to the cleanup regulations. There isn’t a comprehensive database of properties to let people know where meth was used or made. For example, the Colorado Springs Police Department has a list of the houses they’re aware of meth being made in. Their list doesn’t include any homes where meth was used. The list doesn’t include homes where there have been busts, reports, or toxicity tests. Homeowners may not know that meth was being used or manufactured in the house. Even if they do know, they might keep quiet about it. It will cost them thousands of dollars if they confess to having knowledge about meth presence. An owner is only going to have to clean up if meth contamination is found.
Meth Clean Up Axed in El Paso County
Every county in Colorado has different statutes when it comes to cleaning up meth contamination. Due to budget cuts, El Paso County shut down the health department’s meth cleanup program. The health department had previously been in charge of ensuring the clean-up standards for meth were met and documented. This made homeowners accountable for ensuring safety to the next buyer. With nobody monitoring meth contamination and clean ups, it’s up to the homeowners. In Colorado, meth is so commonly used that it’s important to consider contamination of building and automobiles. Sometimes it will be up to the buyer to get this done before purchasing.
Meth is Colorado’s Number One Problem
Law enforcers, drug addiction specialists, and others that are tapped into the drug problem in Colorado realize the problem meth has caused. Families have been ripped apart when they haven’t been able to help their loved one with meth addiction. Houses, commercial space, and automobiles have been contaminated with meth on a regular basis. This is a common problem that poses a health risk to innocent people. The drug rings are being broken down but the fight against meth in Colorado grows. Some neighborhoods have become unsafe because meth users will become violent and they may steal to get more of the drug. Tom Gorman, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, had this to say about meth in Colorado, Meth has been overshadowed by opioids and marijuana in news headlines in Colorado recently, Gorman says, but “we’ve had a meth problem in this area for a long time.”
Are more people using the drug now? “Maybe,” he says. “But it’s always been our number one problem.”
It’s clear that meth has infiltrated itself into Colorado on a large scale. Teens will often use it as a party drug or weekender drug. Due to it’s addictive nature, young and middle aged adults are also seen on the streets. While meth use is common in the state, there is hope. Many organizations in Colorado are looking to change things. For any individual who is suffering from meth addiction, there are excellent programs that will help you recover. Inpatient and outpatient addiction programs have helped many people in the state of Colorado gain back their lives.