Felony drug arrests already on the rise in 2019

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office has released numbers showing that felony drug arrests are already on the rise this year.

At this time in 2018, there were 35 felony drug arrests. This year, that number is already up to 95.

Photo courtesy of Pennington County Sheriff’s Office

Methamphetamine has been a major component in the number of arrests.

In 2012, meth was involved in 26 percent of total drug possession arrests in Pennington County. That jumped to 69 percent in 2017.

That’s compared to marijuana drug arrests, which dropped from 48 percent in 2012 to only 14 percent in 2017.

The increase has been driven by several factors, including wider availability of refined crystal meth and not enough resources for treatment and prevention.

While small-scale meth labs have decreased in the past few years due to stronger regulation of the ingredients involved, large-scale laboratories both in Mexico and the United States have become more predominant.

According to a report from the DEA, those large-scale operations are able to manufacture “unprecedented quantities of high-purity methamphetamine,” which then makes its way throughout the U.S.

Much of the meth available in South Dakota comes as a byproduct of large-scale traffickers using Interstate 90 as a transportation hub.

The growing crisis has led to calls for better rehabilitation services and treatment options, and many are turning to lawmakers to improve those resources.

Gov. Kristi Noem made the meth epidemic in South Dakota a key part of her campaign.

In a statement, Noem wrote, “I want to reach meth users before they enter the criminal justice system and commit other crimes. Our objective isn’t to imprison people – that hurts families too. We need additional mental health services. We must help people beat their meth addiction and return to their jobs and families. […] We need more options like this for people trapped in addiction, recognizing that second chances are available to people willing to walk the road to recovery.”

Noem is expected to lay out more specific plans as to how she will combat the crisis in her first budget address, which is scheduled for noon today. You can watch the address live at NC1.tv/noembudget.






Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News