FAYETTEVILLE, AR (KAIT/KNWA) - It is something that state law enforcement has said provides the recipe for transporting a pure, potent form of meth in the Natural State - drug runners, the state’s large interstate system and large amounts of money.
According to a report from content partner KNWA, officials said this week that 99 percent of meth brought into Arkansas is done by drug runners from the southern border in exchange for large amounts of cash.
The 4th Judicial District Task Force seized 15 pounds of meth in the first few months of 2019, while Fayetteville police busted over 100 pounds of meth, KNWA reported.
The number of meth labs confiscated in the state has dropped from 416 in 2010 to 11 in 2017 as state officials monitored the sale of pseudopehedrine, according to numbers of the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
However, the drop has led to more opportunities for Mexican drug cartels, federal prosecutors said.
“What we’re seeing coming from Mexico is a better, quality product. It’s almost 99 percent pure. It’s better quality, there’s more of it, it’s cheaper,” United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Dak Kees told the station.
The cartels attempt to sneak the drugs into the U.S. using vehicles with homemade compartments, Kees said.
“We’ve seen people that can make, easily, $100,000 a shipment. And you think about that. If you can make one shipment a month, in 12 months, you’ve made $1.2 million,” Kees said.
The 2019 Arkansas Drug Threat Assessment (ADTA) reports police in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Little Rock which are part of the Gulf Coast High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) intercepted shipments totaling 104 pounds in 2017, the most recent year of data in the report. It’s a significant drop from the 340 pounds seized in 2015 by HITDA agencies.
Both federal and state authorities busted a drug trafficking ring in Fayetteville and Springdale, called “Operation Ozark Express.” At least 15 people were prosecuted, with a combined 1,000 months in prison, in the case.
“The people that are dealing this drug are killers,” Kees said.