Methamphetamine, a drug that has devastated communities around the US, has never been able to take hold of New York City. However, police say it's not for lack of trying. A new report by Newsweek revealed Mexican cartels have attempted to use the drug to claim the city.
Early in April, authorities arrested a driver who allegedly had 25 kilos of meth in his car as he drove near the Holland Tunnel. Newsweek reported police believe the meth is from Mexico.
While the drug bust cannot precisely point to an increase of meth in NYC, the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) meth seizures have risen since 2012. According to Newsweek, the DEA seized six kilos in 2012, but nabbed 44, 55 and 66 kilos in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. High-quantity seizures have also risen since 2012.
Mexican cartel meth has slowly taken up the market in the US as law enforcement agencies continue to crackdown on domestic operations, Newsweek reported. While several cartels are involved in the drug trade, the violent Sinaloa cartel dominates the drug trade.
"They're basically flooding the market," DEA special agent James Hunt told Newsweek. "They're sending more meth here, probably more than the market demands right now, but they're trying to create a market." He added, "They want a big addict population."
Mexicans overtaking Colombian drug gangs
Mexican cartels are also overtaking Colombian drug gangs in the heroin distribution. Bridget Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, told Newsweek that police are now seeing Mexican meth along with heroin during local drug takedowns.
"It would lead you to believe that the Mexican cartel is diversifying its product line and trying to cultivate a new user group," she said.
While there has been an uptick in meth use, senior lecturer in economics at Harvard Jeffrey Miron said it would be wrong to call it an "epidemic". "I certainly don't mean to say that there's no fluctuation in drug use — just as with any other good, there can be certainly be fluctuations in use. But over time, there doesn't seem to be a radical variations," Miron said.