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Law enforcement officials talk drug trends

DICKINSON - According to local law enforcement, area drug transporting is on the rise.

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said methamphetamine transporting seems to have been increasing for about two years.

The Dickinson Police Department's Lt. Rick Shirey said since key ingredients in meth have been restricted, there has been a decrease in meth lab activity in recent years.

"We're not seeing nearly as much manufacture of it," Shirey said.

Tuhy believes the decrease in manufacturing activity over the last few years has led to the increase in the transport of the drug into Dickinson.

"The using is not slowing down," Tuhy said. "We know that the meth labs are down, but the use is still out there."

Police Chief Chuck Rummel agreed that the transporting of meth into Dickinson seems to be climbing.

"I don't think it's being manufactured here all that much anymore," Rummel said. "They're bringing it in."

Tuhy said current restrictions on meth ingredients make it difficult for individuals to manufacture the drug.

"Anhydrous is harder to get a hold of," Tuhy said. "Ephedra is behind can only purchase a small amount at a time."

He added the discovery of a partial meth lab in New Hradec last month was the only lab to be discovered in this area for quite some time.

"That's probably the first one in about a year," Tuhy said.

Rummel said the discovery of this lab may be an indicator that meth manufacturing as well as the use of the drug is again on the rise.

Tuhy said summer months usually bring an increase of drug related activity. This may explain recent increases in drug related charges.

"I think it kind of comes in spurts," Tuhy said. "There isn't any abnormal trend."

According to Rummel, individuals seem to be moving larger shipments of drugs into the state.

He added there currently seems to be more of the drug on the street than in recent years.

"For a number of years now, that number has been held to a minimum," Rummel said.

Tuhy said most of the meth shipments seem to be coming primarily from states west and south of North Dakota.

"The stuff that's coming in is a little more potent," Tuhy said.

Rummel said the meth problem is not nearly as bad as it was several years ago.

"I've seen it a lot worse in years past than I do now," Rummel said.

He added that continuing to concentrate on the meth problem does help to slow down the usage of the drug.

"There have been times when we've hit prime targets and were able to take them off the street," Rummel said. "That will put a kink in that market for quite a while."

Despite the continued efforts to stifle the drug use, Rummel believes meth will always be a problem, at least to some extent.

"Those people, because of the addiction problem, they have to have it," Rummel said.

Tuhy said another drug whose production has decreased in the Dickinson area in recent years is marijuana

The transportation of marijuana also seems to be steadily rising, Tuhy said. He added that this too is mostly due to a decrease of local production.

"If the growers aren't there, and the manufacturers aren't there, how are they getting it then?" Tuhy said.

Tuhy and Rummel agree that prescription drug abuse is also climbing.

"People, because they're prescribed medication...feel safer about using that kind of thing," Rummel said. "Even though they're not prescribed it, they feel if one can get prescribed this kind of drug, it should be okay for me to take it."

Although law enforcement officials are watching for this activity, Rummel said this problem has been growing over a number of years.

"We've always looked at it. I was looking at it 15 years ago, but back then it was a small circle that was using prescription drugs," Rummel said. "It evolved on its own."

Tuhy said he thinks more people are abusing prescription drugs because meth has been harder to find in Dickinson.

"They'll use whatever they can get a hold of," Tuhy said.

Rummel agreed with this concept.

"When there's an absence of one, they'll look for substitutes that are close to it," Rummel said. "The supply and demand always runs the show."

He added prescription drug abuse is harder for law enforcement to detect, since those who actually need the drugs can obtain them legally.

"We try to work with pharmacies and we try to work with the medical professionals and hopefully control those people who have these prescriptions and the sale of that kind of stuff," Rummel said.

Tuhy said to continue cracking down on all the drug issues the Dickinson area is experiencing, law enforcement needs the help of area residents.

"If people are suspicious about activity around their place, just call law enforcement," Tuhy said. "They can call in and we don't give the name of the complainants."

Rummel also suggested individuals report suspected drug activity including the theft of anhydrous, which is a key ingredient of meth.

"People need to be more aware of that activity," Rummel said.