BELLEVILLE — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says the amount of methamphetamine coming into southern Illinois has been increasing for the past five or 10 years.
The region has become a prime destination for Mexican drug cartels bringing cheaper and higher quality crystal meth into the U.S., DEA agent Doug Dorley told the Belleville News-Democrat.
"Now there's larger amounts of drugs sitting in areas where they weren't before," Dorley said. "It's easier to conceal, so there's more people doing it."
According to the DEA's 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, most of the meth available in the country is now produced in Mexico and smuggled in at the southwest border of the U.S.
Dorley said an open market has been creased because the cartels' meth is pure and costs the same while creating less risk. He said now meth "is just flooding itself into the streets."
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said his county is on pace to file close to 200 meth-related cases in 2017. He said the number of home-grown meth laboratories are declining as a result of the drug cartels. Kelly said many meth charges are now filed for possession.
Kelly said the issue of meth needs to be addressed by cutting off the supply at the border and making sure addicts have access to treatment.