Washington state is one of the top 5 places in the United States, where home sales are rising. Although, that’s good news for home sellers, it may not be such good news for home buyers. Before you buy a home in Washington, find out if the home has a history of drug activity. Be especially careful when buying a foreclosed home or from a private seller.
How large of a problem is meth in Washington?
“The production, transportation, distribution, and abuse of methamphetamine” are the primary drug threat to the Pacific Region” (National Drug Intelligence Center [NDIC], 2005).
92.3% of law enforcement agencies in the region report that methamphetamine is the “greatest drug threat” in their jurisdictions. (National Drug Threat Survey, 2004).
Methamphetamine has impacted the entire Pacific Region, but Washington has been hardest hit with:
Nearly twice the number of methamphetamine labs reported than Oregon and exponentially more than Idaho and Alaska. (Reports of 951 labs, compared to 474 in Oregon, 67 in Alaska, and only 43 in Idaho just by the 3rd quarter of 2004) (Department of Ecology [DOE]).
The highest amount of Federal Drug Seizures of methamphetamine in the pacific region. (Federal Law Enforcement in 2003 seized 205.7 kilograms of methamphetamine in Washington, compared to 40.4 in Oregon, 78.0 in California, and 53.0 in Idaho) (NDIC, 2005).
Higher levels of availability of the drug resulting in lower prices than any other state (NDIC, 2005).
Rural areas hard hit by meth:Drug traffickers bring imported meth into rural areas for distribution around the state, says Grays Harbor Undersheriff Rick Scott (Aberdeen Daily World, 3/7/2006).Meth rates in rural areas are hard to track because most studies concentrate on metropolitan areas, such as tracking emergency room and treatment admissions in city hospitals (Rural Assistance Center, 2005).
Resources to Fight Meth
Washington spent more than $50 million in 2004 to deal with meth—including prison costs, foster care, treatment, enforcement and cleanup. (Seattle PI/AP, 5/12/2005).
President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget cuts 80% from meth-related state grant programs, which would force the Washington State Patrol to trim detectives from the narcotics section. (Office of Congressman Brian Baird).
Washington ranks last out of all states in state patrol officers per capita. Funding cuts negatively impact county drug task forces that rely on state patrol help with drug crimes. (U. S. Department of Justice [DOJ]– date?).
2007 federal budget cuts would cut Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) worth $400,000. Officers, prosecutors and task forces in Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties depend on JAG (The Columbian, 2/28/2006).
Nationally, The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) increased its meth budget from $127.5 million in fiscal 2001 to $151.4 million in fiscal 2004 (though these figures exclude major expenses like training costs and overtime pay for local task forces)—and sends Mobile Enforcement Teams to areas of the country with limited resources or experience in dealing with meth (Newsweek, 8/8/2005).
Meth at Our Borders: Trafficking and Transportation
When not manufactured locally, methamphetamine is smuggled into Washington from Mexico, California and other Southwest border states (DEA, 8/2004).
California is and has been the main source of manufactured methamphetamine brought into Washington State (DEA, 8/2004).
Interstate 5 is the primary route used by methamphetamine couriers (NDIC, 2005).
Even with measures in place to decrease the availability of meth precursors in Washington, smuggling of those same materials into the state from Canada continues.
Over 80% of methamphetamine precursor seizures occur on Washington’s northern boarder, traveling south from Canada (Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program [NHIDTAP], 5/2005).
Canada restricted importation of large amounts of bulk pseudoephedrine in January 2003, thereby decreasing the number of domestic superlabs (DOJ, 2006).
According to Homeland Security, drug seizures at Blaine involving meth precursors have continued to climb (U.S. Department of Customs Enforcement).
While domestic meth production has decreased because of successful regulations on precursors and public awareness campaigns, those decreases have been offset by increased meth production in Mexico (DOJ, 2006).
Mexican producers can make enough meth to offset any future declines in domestic production (DOJ, 2006).
Foreign meth producers increasingly exert more control in the U.S. because users that once relied on locally produced meth now must now purchase from foreign dealers (DOJ, 2006).
Meth seized on the U.S.-Mexico border increased 75% from 2002 to 2004 (DOJ. 2006).
Public transportation is impacted by methamphetamine trafficking
Most highway drug seizures in Washington happen along I-5 (NHIDTAP, 5/2005).
Drug traffickers transport methamphetamine on private and commercial aircraft through Sea-Tac International Airport (NDIC, 2005).
Methamphetamine is often shipped with money and other drugs (NHIDTAP, 5/2005).
Half of all weapons seized with drug shipments were found with meth, even though the percentage of methamphetamine seizures is much less than other drug types (NHIDTAP, 5/2005).
Making Meth: Labs and Dumpsites
Reported meth labs in Washington have decreased since 2000, but dump sites have risen steadily every year (DOE).
Labs accounted for 84 percent of incidents while dumpsites comprised the remaining 16 percent in 2000 (DOE).
By 2003, dump sites increased to 40 percent. By 2005, the pollution sites had jumped to 57 percent of all incidents with 413 dump sites compared to 306 labs found (DOE).
For every pound of meth produced, five to seven pounds of toxic waste are produced (Office of National Drug Control Policy).
Costs of cleaning up just one meth site can reach $150,000.
Data Track the Northwest’s Long-Term Meth Problem
2,097 clandestine methamphetamine laboratories were reported in 2002 to the DEA Intelligence Center for Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Some of these were “superlabs” with production capacities estimated to be over 20 pounds of meth per reaction (DEA, 8/2004).
Washington was the source of most DEA clandestine laboratory reports. In 2001 and 2002, Washington reported 1,482 and 1,418 incidents respectively, nearly three times the amount of incidents in Oregon and ten times the number in Idaho (DEA, 8/2004).
Washington seized 1,259 illegal meth labs in 2004, the third highest number of seizures in the country behind Iowa (1,300) and Missouri (2,700) (Bellingham Herald, 4/10/2005.)
A Widely Available Drug
Even as lab related responses have decreased 26% from 2004 to 2005, meth still accounted for 52% of all submissions to state crime labs in 2005 (Washington State Patrol [WSP]).
Addicts no longer depend on domestic sources to feed their meth habit. 75% of the meth in our state is now supplied from outside drug traffickers (Office of Congressman Brian Baird).
Mexican producers can make meth at levels that will offset any future declines in domestic production (DOJ, 2006).
Meth purity levels have spiked from 28 percent to 73 percent in the past three years (DEA).
Meth is cheaper than cocaine or heroin (DEA, 2005).
Meth is not always sold for money, but is traded for services and other drugs (DEA, 2004).
Ninety-eight percent of state and local law enforcement agencies in Washington describe methamphetamine availability as high or moderate in their jurisdictions (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
State and local law enforcement officials seized 145 kg of methamphetamine in 1999, 282 kg in 2000, 114 kg in 2001, 199 kg in 2002, 199 kg in 2003 and 96 kg in 2004 (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Washington ranked sixth in the nation (based on weight) for Federal seizures of methamphetamine in 2004 (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Meth: The Most Popular Stimulant
Methamphetamine is the most popular stimulant statewide. Over the past few years, all Washington State Patrol Crime Labs experienced an increase in meth submitted for analysis while submissions of other stimulants decreased (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
Casual use rates for people 12 and older have not decreased in the past 3 years (DOJ, 2006).
Chronic meth user rates are not likely to decrease in the near term (DOJ, 2006).
Seattle Public School students in 2004 indicated 4.7 percent of twelfth-grade students admitted to using amphetamines or methamphetamine, 2 percent in the last 30 days (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Clark, Grays Harbor, Klickitat and Lewis counties had high rates of meth use among adults as early as 1995. By 2001, rates much higher than average plagued Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pierce and Yakima counties. Rates increased in nearly all Washington counties (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute [ADAI], University of Washington, 2004).
Meth-related deaths have increased every year, with a high of 257 reported in 2005, a 17 percent increase from the previous year (WSP).
Meth deaths in 2002 reached 176, according to the State Toxicology Lab (WSP).
Children at Risk
Children are directly and indirectly placed at risk by meth production and use
Children documented at Washington methamphetamine lab sites have increased each year since 2001 to 495 kids in 2004, according to the EPIC Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System. This is almost five times the number of children reported in any other state in the region (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
Babies admitted to the Pediatric Interim Care Center suffering from prenatal methamphetamine exposure exceeded admissions of infants suffering from the effects of any other drug (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
In 2004, 49 infants were admitted with methamphetamine exposure compared to 34 for cocaine (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
An additional 14 infants were admitted who had been exposed to a combination of amphetamines and cocaine or opiates (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Parents on Meth = Neglected Children
Meth-using parents helped drive a 62 percent increase in the foster care population over the past decade (Tri-City Herald, 1/23/2005).
Fewer than 30 percent of meth-addicted parents in Washington regain custody of their children (Tri-City Herald, 1/23/2005).
In 2001 alone, Snohomish County estimated that two-thirds of all social worker referrals in the county for domestic violence or abandoned or neglected children were related to methamphetamine (DEA).
Eighty percent of kids taken into foster care in Clark County come from meth-affected homes (Office of Congressman Brian Baird).
In Benton and Franklin Counties, 160 of the 250 kids in foster care are there because their parents use meth.
Increased methamphetamine production and use in Washington has forced more children into the state’s foster care system, according to Families and Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides support services for foster and adoptive (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
Meth in the Hospital
Methamphetamine use strains limited public health resources
Sixty-seven percent of Washington state emergency room officials report that hospital costs have increased in the last three years because of higher methamphetamine-related admissions (NACO, 1/2006).
Nearly 57 percent of Northwest emergency room officials say they see more meth presentations than any other illicit drug (NACO, 1/2006).
Meth-related emergency room visits in Seattle increased 77 percent from 2000 to 2004 (Newsweek, 8/8/2005).
Southwest Washington hospitals reported 700 meth cases in 2004 in 2004 at a total cost of $3.3 million. Hospitals recovered $771,562 (Office of Congressman Brian Baird).
Meth patients rarely have health insurance, so hospital must cover the costs (NACO, 2006).
Cooking meth can cause burns and explosions, and burned meth addicts strain burn unit resources (Newsweek, 8/8/2005).
Syphilis cases in King County doubled between 2003 and 2004. The Director of Public Health for Seattle and King County’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic indicated that drug use, particularly methamphetamine use, appears to be associated with the increase (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
Stopping Addiction through Treatment
More People are Seeking Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction, a Trend Likely to Continue.
Youth and adult treatment submissions for meth fist began to increase in 1998, according to the Alcohol and Drug Institute at the University of Washington (2004).
By 2001, admission rates at treatment facilities had doubled from five years earlier; in 2001 alone, there were over 6,200 admissions in all facilities statewide (ADAI, 2004).
Treatment needs have increased most significantly in rural areas including: Cowlitz, Clallam, Clark, Gray’s Harbor, and Mason counties (ADAI, 2004).
In just the third quarter of 2005, admissions to publicly-funded treatment centers rose 7.2 percent, bringing the yearly increase to 17.69 percent over the previous year (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Treatment submissions to publicly-funded facilities averaged 3,325 admissions per quarter 2004, and over 4,000 in 2005 (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Only 21 percent of meth addicts receive publicly-funded treatment; 48 percent of alcoholics get public treatment (Department of Social and Health Services [DSHS], 2005).
Meth’s strong addictive impact makes getting addicts into treatment especially difficult.
More than half of surveyed drug treatment program directors report that meth treatment is different than other drugs, requiring longer treatment programs (NACO, 2006).
Like other addicts, meth users are more likely to succeed in inpatient treatment programs than outpatient programs (DSHS, 2005).
Meth is powerfully addictive because it causes excessive dopamine releases, causing feelings of euphoria and energy. Not even cocaine directly stimulates dopamine levels in this way (MSNBC, http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3076519/ ).
Once in treatment, meth addicts are as likely as other addicts to complete treatment programs (DSHS, 2005).
In Snohomish County, 38.5 percent of addicts successfully completed outpatient treatment in 2004. In comparison, 51.9 percent of alcoholics completed treatment programs (Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force [SRDTF], 2005).
Less than 10 percent of Snohomish County felons who complete treatment re-offend (SRDTF, 2005).
Adult meth users have a 16 percent reduced chance of re-offending after treatment, compared to 19 percent of other drug users (DSHS, 2005)
Meth treatment submissions nationwide have likely increased because of better access to treatment programs and referrals from drug courts (DOE, 2006).
Meth’s Desperation: Increases in Crime
Methamphetamine production and use severely impacts local law enforcement agencies.
In 2004, 91.1 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies in Washington described methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat in their areas (NHIDTAP, 6/2005).
Snohomish County prosecutors blamed methamphetamine, in one form or another, for 66 percent of the county’s crime in 2002 (DEA, 8/2004).
Eighty percent of contacts made by police officers in Vancouver are related to methamphetamine, according to Police Chief Brian Martinek (The Columbian 2/28/2006).
The Thurston County Methamphetamine Coalition found meth in some way connected to 80 percent of all crime in that county (DEA, 8/2004).
Methamphetamine use increases property crime
Washington has the second highest number of overall property crimes nationwide.
Areas with the greatest increase in property crime attribute the dramatic increases to methamphetamine consumption.
Pacific County has experienced a 149 percent increase in vehicle thefts from 2001 to 2005. Vehicle prowls are up 76 percent, theft is up 30 percent, shoplifting is up 70 percent and burglary is up 31 percent, says Pacific County Sheriff John Didion (Aberdeen Daily World, 3/7/2006).
Record setting car thefts in Seattle have been attributed to meth abuse and ID Theft (Seattle P-I).
Spokane currently suffers the highest crime rate of any Washington urban area. From 2003 to 2004, Spokane’s crime rate jumped from 87 to 97 reported crimes for every 1,000 residents; local law enforcement believe their increased crime rates are almost entirely due to meth addicts committing theft and burglary (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
Meth users In Spokane committed 70 percent of the city’s burglaries, 80 percent of vehicle thefts and 95 percent of credit card fraud (US Newswire, 3/7/2006).
In 2004, Kitsap County prosecutors attributed virtually all property crimes, crimes of violence and burglaries to drugs, specifically methamphetamine (DEA, 8/2004).
Nationally, police believe 75 to 80 percent of all property crimes are committed by people addicted to methamphetamine, or who profit from addicts. (Bremerton Sun, 3/29/2005)
Meth related DUIs dramatically increase
Meth related DUIs increased 12 % from 2004 to 2005 (WSP).
563 DUIs with meth were reported in 2005, up from 267 in 2002 (WSP).
The Meth/ID Theft Connection
Washington ranks in the top ten in the US for auto theft and identity theft.
A 2005 survey of U.S. counties indicated that meth use has driven a 27% increase in ID theft crimes (NACO, 2005).
An MSNBC news report called the meth/ID theft connection a “twin-headed monster ravaging communities across the nation” (MSNBC, 2004).
Police officers nationwide report that nearly every time they bust an ID theft ring, the criminals are meth addicts.
All 27 major identity theft cases brought to court in Spokane County in 2004 involved suspects who abused methamphetamine.
All identity theft cases investigated in the Kitsap area were related to meth (Bremerton Sun, 3/29/2005).
Eighty percent of fraud, forgery and identity theft cases in Clark County are connected to methamphetamine according to County Sheriff Garry Lucas (The Columbian 2/28/2006).
In Cowlitz County, meth was a factor in roughly 60 percent of identity theft cases.
Arrest rates and seizures have decreased because most arrests in the past involved labs. As domestic production decreases, the difficulty of finding who has the drug locally increases (DOJ, 2006).
Seventy percent of people arrested in Seattle and Spokane test positive for alcohol and/or drugs (DSHS, 2005).
Seventy percent of inmates with substance abuse problems report meth is their drug of choice (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
At least half the inmates in Whitman County jails who require medical or dental work are methamphetamine users (DEA, Seattle Field Office, 2005).
Seventy-two percent of illegal drug police contacts made in Snohomish County are related to meth, according to the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (2004).
Around 20 percent of all Snohomish County jail inmates in 2003 tested positive for meth when they were booked (SRDTF, 2004).
Source: Washington State Office of the Attorney General, http://www.atg.wa.gov/AlliedAgainstMeth/Stats.aspx