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safety elements. ltd. offers personalized, specialty products and services to keep our customers safe by offering customized, on-site training for OSHA topic compliancy, HAZWOPER, RCRA, DOT and hazardous materials handling. In addition to our trainings, we offer consulting and toxic atmospheric testing, specializing in methamphetamine contamination. Let safety elements, ltd. be the one you turn to for your safety needs!. Contact us to show you why we are the best service (BBB A+ rating) in the industry!

safety elements Blog

Has the Meth Epidemic Gone Away?

Since we aren’t seeing or hearing about meth labs as much in the news as in previous years, don’t think they’ve gone away! If anything, usage has increased creating more contaminated dwellings. 

Heroin attention has replaced meth lab busts and explosions in the news and on the streets. Statistically, lab seizures have dropped drastically. Why manufacture when one can get a better quality of meth and pay lower prices from product delivered via the California-to-Midwest pipeline?

This trend should make landlords and realtors more cautious than ever! Since those who are contaminating the dwellings are not being apprehended as they were in previous years, contamination is increasing, causing unsuspecting renters or buyers to be living in hazardous environments. Now, more than ever, dwellings need to be tested prior to changing occupants.  

Meth is making a comeback while America obsesses about opioids

William Wilkinson

By Amelia McDonell-Parry, Rolling Stone

October 9, 2018

In the shadows of the nationwide opioid crisis, another threat looms. Methamphetamine use is on the rise in small rural pockets of the country, from Oklahoma and Virginia, to Kentucky and Florida, and, as Rolling Stone reported in August, all the way up north in Alaska. The drug’s previous rise to prominence in the 1990s stemmed from the development of new synthesizing methods that allowed amateur chemists, armed with cold medicine and common household cleaning products, to “shake and bake” at home. It took a while, but 2006’s Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which limited over-the-counter access to cold medications containing necessary ingredients for synthesizing the drug, reduced domestic meth lab seizures to its lowest rate in 16 years. But the market for meth never went anywhere, it just got a new supplier. Nowadays, most of the country’s meth hails from Mexico, where “superlabs” run by drug cartels churn out a product that is purer and cheaper than ever — and there’s a hell of a lot more of it to go around.

These superlabs, largely operated by Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, are able to produce at an industrial scale, cooking up hundreds of pounds a day, and testing at 95 to 99 percent purity – what law enforcement calls “crystal” or “ice.”

“They came in with much purer, much cheaper meth and just flooded this region of the country,” DEA Agent Richard Salter told CNN about the impact being felt in Oklahoma, where fatal overdoses from the drug have doubled over the last five years.

As Rolling Stone first reported in August, Alaska saw meth-related overdoses quadruple between 2008 and 2016. Similarly, in Florida, according to the Department of Law Enforcement’s 2016 report, fatal meth overdoses were four times higher than they were just six years earlier. And in Southwest Virginia, according to a new report, within two years, meth seizures tripled, overtaking heroin as the second leading drug of choice (after marijuana).

The cartels are producing so much meth that they’ve broadened the scope of distribution beyond just those areas already ravaged by addiction, like the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, targeting new markets on the East Coast and the Southern United States. According to the US Border Patrol, meth seizures have multiplied tenfold over the last eight years, increasing from 8,900 pounds in 2010 to nearly 82,000 pounds so far in 2018. But a lot more is slipping through the cracks, trafficked across the border through California and Arizona — where seizures of meth are up 500 percent in the past decade — and making its way to distribution hubs like Atlanta, where it’s funneled into smaller, rural communities, often through established prison networks with connections to the formerly incarcerated.

With plenty to go around, meth is a lot cheaper too. In Oklahoma in 2012, an ounce of meth cost approximately $1,100, but now goes for $250 to $450. Law enforcement officials in Virginia, Ohio and Florida report a similar price drop. Illegal drugs are always sold at a premium in Alaska, and while the cartels continue to exploit the remote market’s lack of competition, meth is still cheaper now than it was the previous decade.

The rise in meth use hasn’t been accompanied by a decrease in opioid overdoses in these communities either — in Southern Virginia, for example, heroin seizures also went up during the same time period. Drug addiction experts fear the “euphoria” effect that meth is known for may be especially tempting to opiate addicts. While not as frequent as opiate overdoses, fatal meth overdoses frequently involve opioids such as fentanyl and heroin. And while meth is usually snorted or smoked, intravenous use — called “slamming” — has become more frequent, according to public health experts, another byproduct of the opioid crisis that significantly increases the risk of an overdose. And then there are those addicts who mix the two substances, a dangerous combination that makes opioid overdose drugs like Narcan utterly useless.

Just last week, the US Senate passed the “Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018,” which renews funding for treatment focused on opioids. But as meth use continues to rise in its shadows, aiding and abetting rising overdose and addiction rates, a single-pronged approach to the crisis won’t be enough.

What a meth: Cartels flood Ohio to urge switch from heroin to ice

William Wilkinson

 

Jona Ison, The Chillicothe Gazette Published 4:12 a.m. ET July 30, 2018

CHILLICOTHE - Drug cartels have been pumping the state full of methamphetamine as a safer, cheaper alternative to heroin but instead there was a 126 percent increase in meth-related overdose deaths in 2017.

State officials have been tracking the increase of meth across the state and, according to a letter sent to legislators on July 12, preliminary data for 2017 show there were 526 overdose deaths involving meth in 2017 compared to 233 in 2016.

The upward trend of meth continues this year with the state crime lab processing 7,428 meth cases so far this year - a sevenfold increase since 2014 and about 600 cases shy of the combined number of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil cases processed this year.

Drug cartels are insisting heroin traffickers also take crystal meth, often called ice for its appearance and purity, made in their "super labs" to create a market among heroin users, according to a state drug trend report released this month.

"No one makes their own meth anymore. The cartels are shipping it in, and it's cheap," said Penny Dehner, Paint Valley ADAMH director.

Meth is cheaper

The drug trend report indicates crystal meth is selling for $35 to $40 for 1/2 a gram compared to $50 to $100 for heroin and/or fentanyl in the Cincinnati region, which includes Ross and Pike counties.

An unnamed law enforcement official in the Cincinnati region suggested in the state's report that officials are the reason for the switch.

"I think we're the main reason (cartels are) pushing meth so hard ... you see they got heroin coalitions and task forces and stuff all over the country. Everybody is paying attention to the opiate crisis, and those cartels aren't stupid, they have a nice business model. They say, 'Well, while they're paying attention to that, we'll work on this,'" the official said.

Existing business model

This isn't the first time Mexican drug trafficking has switched modes to take advantage of what's happening with drug addiction in America. Sam Quinones' book "Dreamland," much of which is focused in Ohio, outlines how traffickers of black tar heroin moved into Ohio and were able to take advantage of a rise in prescription pain pill addiction.

As pill mills were shut down and prescribing guidelines shifted, heroin quickly became the cheaper and more available drug of choice. In 2014, heroin began to be cut with fentanyl, a much more potent opiate. Although fentanyl has a cheaper overhead for drug traffickers - its potency means it can be cut much more than heroin - and is sold at the same cost as heroin, it's killing "customers."

Bad for business

Fentanyl and the even more potent carfentanil has driven unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio to more than double since 2014 to 4,814 in 2017, according to preliminary data collected by the Ohio Department of Health.

While there have been reports of people switching to meth due to the increased risks of opiate abuse, the number of overdose deaths involving meth has increased from about 1 percent of deaths in 2010 to 11 percent in 2017, according to preliminary data. In 2016, 78 percent of those overdose deaths involving meth also involved an opiate with more than half being either fentanyl or carfentanil.

Ross County Common Pleas Judge Mike Ater has noted a "big increase" in criminal cases involving meth but said he hasn't seen the same uptick within those applying to his drug court. In early July, Chillicothe police discovered 2 pounds of suspected crystal meth during a search warrant of a room at the Holiday Inn on East Main Street.

"Typically, those cases (meth) are a different mindset of people using and abusing that drug ... We've definitely seen people abusing meth we wouldn't have expected in the past," Ater said.

Seeking an escape

Paint Valley ADAMH's drug and mental health service providers have been monitoring the uptick in those seeking treatment for those who identify meth as their drug of choice. While heroin continues to be at the top for the five-county service area so far this year - 29 percent - those citing meth as their primary drug is at 9 percent compared to 4 percent in 2016.

The physiological effects of heroin and other opiates are much different from meth - opiates produce a more sedative effect while meth is a stimulant. However, since meth is not an opiate, those in medication-assisted recovery using the opiate-blocking Vivitrol can still get a high from meth. The two drugs also are used together to "speedball" or alternated to balance each other out.

"I think it speaks to those with substance use disorder, they're seeking an escape no matter what ... The majority of people that are in treatment or seeking treatment are poly                         users, they're not just using one drug. It's very rare someone can just walk away from poly drug use," Dehner said.

In their July letter to legislators, state medical directors Mark Hurst and Clint Koenig noted collaborative efforts need to continue to address substance abuse.

"By pursuing collaborative, data driven strategies and working together at the state and local levels, we will continue to battle the scourge of drug abuse and addiction no matter the type of drugs involved," they wrote.

State agencies have been monitoring the trends and communicating to stay ahead of the curve, said Eric Wandersleben, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

"Treatment isn’t drug-specific. Evidence-based treatment approaches are effective regardless of drug of choice ... Throughout the evolution of the opioid epidemic, we’ve focused on building capacity and expanding access to treatment," Wandersleben said.

While the effects of different drugs vary as do withdrawal effects, the critical component in treatment, including those assisted with medication, remains the same for many - determining the underlying mental health or trauma driving substance abuse and addressing it with counseling, Dehner said.

"We're not going to get anywhere with this until you treat the underlying mental health problem," Dehner said, adding the ADAMH board is directing funding received from the federal Cures Act to increasing mental health treatment locally.

Opiates still have stronghold                                           

While there's been an increase in meth, opiates, and overdose fatalities continue to be a primary concern. The 4,817 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2017 was a 19 percent increase over the previous year.

While 27 of Ohio's 88 counties had at least one less overdose death in 2017, Ross County was one of six counties with more than 10 fewer deaths. Ross County has continued to see a decline this year with 13 unintentional fatal drug overdoses confirmed as of mid-July compared to 23 at this time last year, according to the Ross County Coroner's Office.

Local officials credit the decrease to efforts of the Heroin Partnership Project which began in 2015. Among efforts of the collaboration has been increased access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, reaching out to those who recently overdosed, and developing additional treatment outreach and access such as with drug courts and local law enforcement.

Despite the increase being seen in meth use, Ater, who serves as vice chair of the partnership, said they need to remain focused right now on their mission.

"I think the partnership is pretty much focused on opiates and saving lives. I would not suggest we take the eye off the prize," Ater said.

Partnership Chair and Ross County Coroner Dr. John Gabis agrees, noting while there's been a statewide increase in meth present, it may not be the "agent that caused the death" and in many cases is one of several drugs including opiates. In his 26 years as coroner, Gabis only recalls one death where meth alone was the cause.

If the partnership is able to "make permanent, measurable inroads" to decrease overdose deaths, Gabis said he foresees it will continue on with addressing substance use disorder with all substances. He noted alcohol - still the most abused substance - would be a priority to ensure there's a comprehensive treatment approach.

That's a move Dehner hopes to see come to fruition.

"I don't think it's a matter of what the drug is. We have a drug problem in our communities ... It's disheartening sometimes. You feel like you're playing Whac-A-Mole," Dehner said.

Nearly 90% of stolen cars test positive for meth

William Wilkinson

Updated: 7:49 AM MST Mar 5, 2018. KOAT Channel 7/ABC

Sasha Lenninger, General Assignment Reporter

“It transfers around the car like nicotine. If you’re smoking it and wherever the smoke goes, that is where the meth will be deposited. "

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —

Most of you know someone who’s had their car stolen.

Albuquerque ranks number one in the nation when it comes to car thefts. Last year alone, close to 10,000 cars were stolen from our community.

Jonathan Armijo has had his truck stolen three times. “I recovered it. It was spray painted black,” Armijo said.

When he looked inside, it was filled with a lot of things that were not his.

“It was full of trash, drug paraphernalia, stolen items,” Armijo said.

Ron Rhoades is a certified methamphetamine inspector and he tests recovered stolen cars for drug residue.

“I go through it, I verify VINs and license numbers. Then I search the car and look for chemical use or making of meth. If none of that is found, I go through the car again and look for the evidence of using -- needles, pipes, things like that,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades swabs certain areas of a car, looking for residue. Then he sends the swab to a lab. Results take a few days.

One or two of every five cars he tests has drug paraphernalia.

“Needles is probably the main thing. Occasionally we will see pipes. We will find actual drugs, weapons, bullets, things like,” Rhoades said.

But even more shocking, Rhoades said 90 percent of the cars he tests are positive for meth.

“It transfers around the car like nicotine. If you’re smoking it and wherever the smoke goes, that is where the meth will be deposited. The more times it's done, the thicker the layer is and the higher the concentration is,” Rhoades said.

If a stolen car is recovered, do not go inside it.

According to Rhoades it can be dangerous.

“If a person jumps in the seat and sits down, they could be sitting on a needle. There are other drugs," heroin, cocaine and fentanyl that are all possibilities in these cars,” Rhoades said.

The drug residue can be absorbed through skin. A child may accidentally touch the residue and then place its finders in its mouth.

Most of the time, residue is found on the dashboard, windows, door panels and sometimes in the backseat.

If the damage to the car plus the cost of testing is greater than the value of the car, usually an insurance company will total the car. But Rhoades said often, a car can be cleaned, but he said to make sure it’s done by a professional.

Has the Meth Epidemic Gone Away?

William Wilkinson

Since we aren’t seeing or hearing about meth labs as much in the news as in previous years, don’t think they’ve gone away! If anything, usage has increased creating more contaminated dwellings. 

Heroin attention has replaced meth lab busts and explosions in the news and on the streets. Statistically, lab seizures have dropped drastically. Why manufacture when one can get a better quality of meth and pay lower prices from product delivered via the California-to-Midwest pipeline?

This trend should make landlords and realtors more cautious than ever! Since those who are contaminating the dwellings are not being apprehended as they were in previous years, contamination is increasing, causing unsuspecting renters or buyers to be living in hazardous environments. Now, more than ever, dwellings need to be tested prior to changing occupants.  

Clandestine Lab Information (what to look out for)

William Wilkinson

Since 2007, when safety elements, ltd. first started testing meth labs, we have had many questions posed to us regarding testing and meth labs in general.  Here are a few which hopefully will assist you.

Q:  Will my insurance company cover the testing and cleaning?

A:  You will have to check with your insurance company.  We have seen some cover all of the testing and cleaning, but some will not cover any of the cost.  

 

Q:  My cleaning company said they have tested the areas they cleaned and the contamination is gone.  

A:  DO NOT TRUST the cleaning company to test your home!  In fact, do not let the cleaning company representative and the testing firm be together while testing is being conducted.  While on this subject, make sure the testing firm and the cleaning company are separate companies.  This will guarantee that there was not any influence on the areas of testing.  The testing company is guaranteeing that your home has been decontaminated and your family will be safe!

 

Q:  How much will this cost?

A:  This depends on the number of samples taken and the area of your home.  

 

Q:  How will I know that the samples have not been tampered with after the testing company leaves the site?

A:  We, at safety elements, ltd., handle the samples as "evidence" and work within a "chain-of-custody" program to ensure that your samples arrive at the lab without any outside influence.

 

Q:  Why do I have to test or clean the dwelling?

A:  Many think that since you can't see or often smell meth, its not there.  Many documented cases of children and adults have suffered from health effects due to methamphetamine contamination.  See www.Methlabhomes.com for more information or contact us!

 

Q:  I am a renter and I may be living in a past meth lab.  What rights to I have?

A:  First have the dwelling tested.  If the tests come back noting that the dwelling is contaminated, there are a few options you can pursue.  Contact us for more information.

 

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