Law enforcement officers across the southeast are meeting in North Carolina this week to address the region's drug problems. Agents are tracking down and putting a stop to the latest trend in illegal drug activity.
It's called ICE, and it’s a form of methamphetamine.
Sheriff Andy Hughes of Houston County says, “This is our problem right here. This is ice, which is a smokable form of methamphetamine. It’s being produced in Mexico in large amounts; it's being shipped to the United States in bulk shipment.
Ice is pouring into the United States from Mexico. Sheriff Hughes says his deputies have seen an increase in the number of ice seizures and a decrease in the number of smaller meth lab operations.
Sheriff Hughes says, “The primary ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine, being pseudoephedrine, is more readily available in larger bulk amounts in Mexico so it makes it easier for them to get these precursor chemicals and produce the methamphetamine.”
Authorities say ICE is appealing because it's easier to use.
Hughes adds, “It’s very addictive, very easily obtained, and very easy to use being in smokable form.”
Mexican authorities say they recently seized seven million pills of pseudoephedrine at the Guadalajara airport. The pills were shipped from Calcutta, India. In response, Mexico has banned imports of pseudoephedrine to try to stop production. Even so, traffickers enter the United States everyday with the white stuff.
Sheriff Hughes says, “They're letting it go on in Mexico because there are so many police officers being killed in Mexico for not cooperating with the drug cartels.”
So local authorities are doing what they can here to stop ice trafficking.
“So this is a fight we're going to fight every day. We're going to be looking for drug dealers every single day, and then we're going to try to arrest drug dealers every day,” Sheriff Hughes says.
Sheriff Hughes says using ice is a Class "C" felony and carries with it jail time of one to 10 years.
Distribution is a minimum of 15 years in jail with enhancements for selling within three miles of a school or housing project.
The U.S. Justice Department says Mexican traffickers are the main meth suppliers in this country.