Uptick

Meth Rears Its Ugly Head Again

By Alex Haglund

State’s Attorney Dan Bronke and Sheriff Danny Bradac both touched on drug issues while giving reports to the Washington County Board at their regular meeting held on the evening of Tuesday, June 12.

Despite the amount of focus that’s been given to opioids in the past years, and the gruesome toll those drugs have taken on numerous communities, the two officials weren’t talking about heroin or pills…

“It was actually talked about in court today,” Bronke told the board. “There has been quite an uptick, especially in the last three months, in methamphetamine.”

Bradac gave the board his quarterly report, and presenting them with stats on crime, arrest and drug arrest rates, stated that the numbers from as far back as two years ago showed the start of the pendulum swinging back to meth.

Between In 2015, there were six meth arrests in Washington County, while in 2016, there were 11, which Bradac said was too small of a sample size to really draw conclusions from on its own, but the other numbers he presented do tell a tale: Hypodermic/syringe act arrests went from two to 10, controlled substance act arrests went from 16 to 57, drug paraphernalia act arrests from 22 to 81, and total drug arrests from 66 to 187.

“I have been told by federal agents and agencies that the ice (methamphetamine) we’re seeing has been outsourced to Mexico,” Bradac stated. “They talk that it’s being made very cheaply in Mexico, it’s getting across the border, and then it’s fanning out from there.”

“I would estimate that eight of the last ten felony drug cases are meth-related,” said Bronke. “It just so happens that it’s the cheapest or easiest thing to get right now.”

“They’re right,” Washington County Judge Dan Emge said regarding the conclusions drawn by Bronke and Bradac. “There is a lot more meth now than there was two years ago. That’s not just here…that’s in all the surrounding areas too.”

Both Bradac and Emge said that when it comes to drug addicts, you might have some people that are meth people, and will always go for meth first, and some people that are heroin or opioid people.

The real concern though, is the people in the middle, who are willing to get high on whatever is available. And cheap.

County Board member Eric Brammeier asked Bronke if this would mean more referrals for the Adult Redeploy Illinois program, the intensive probation and rehab regimen that Washington and Perry County are partnered in. Bronke stated that the program was not really focused on first-time offenders, and that in many ways, the Redeploy program, “is more difficult than jail.”

“We don’t know how it’s (Redeploy) is working out just yet, because we’re only a few months in,” said Emge, but added that they were still very hopeful for positive results. He stated that there were three offenders enrolled in the program from Washington County and, “maybe about a dozen from Perry County.”

Both Emge and Bradac stated (with strong clarifications that it was their opinion, and not fact) that the focus on opioids and perhaps even the lethality of those drugs for their users, might have made the cartels that supply these substances shift gears back to meth.

“Back in 2015, when we were seeing a lot more heroin and opioid cases, you didn’t see a lot of meth,” Emge said. “Now, it seems like it’s back with a vengeance.”

“Lately, we have had more cases of methamphetamine than heroin,” said Bradac. But, “we are still dealing with the opioid crisis. That’s on our mind, we’re staying the course, but we’ve got to be flexible enough that we can deal with what’s coming up next too.”