Mexican Meth Traveling Into Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY - Each year, the number of meth labs operating in Oklahoma continues to drop. Despite that, the number of drug distribution cases has increased, showing the meth problem in our state is far from over.
The members of The Recovery Church in Duncan know all about the meth problem. While they share a passion for music and fellowship at church, they also share a dark past.
"I was about 15 years old the first time I ever tried meth," said Adranna Sims, a former meth addict. "When I was really hooked on it, it was an everyday, two to three times a day I was doing it."
"When you're addicted to that stuff, it's just something you crave," said Johnny McKinney, who was also addicted to meth at one time.
While these addicts are free from meth, the addiction rate is still high in Oklahoma, and users are getting it from another source. It's called Mexican meth, crystal meth, ice and it's a purer form that District Attorney Jason Hicks says is coming from Mexico.
"The cartels and whatnot from south of the border, they saw the need and they filled the need," said Jason Hicks, District Attorney for Stephens, Caddo, Grady and Jefferson counties.
Hicks said the demand for meth exploded over the past decade after lawmakers put strict limits on Pseudoephedrine purchases, making it harder to buy over the counter drugs like Sudafed, typically used to convert into meth.
"As that happened, the number of labs started decreasing," said Hicks.
In fact, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, in Oklahoma, agents seized about 930 labs in 2011, 830 in 2012, 422 in 2013 and 200 in 2014, a 78 percent decrease. The meth problem didn't go away, it shifted -- to distribution.
"It's a whole lot easier for somebody to go out and sell it instead of manufacturing it and quite frankly it's harder for us to find that dealer than it is to find the lab because there's no smell," said Hicks.
Around the same time, crystal meth distribution cases rose 55 percent, with 59 cases in 2010, 106 in 2011, a small dip to 90 in 2012 and then it jumped to 130 in 2013.
"Yes meth labs are down in Oklahoma, but meth use, meth addiction has never been higher and it continues to escalate," said Mark Woodward with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Dennis Hall with The Recovery Church knows this reality all too well.
"Methamphetamine and that world is a dark, dark world," Hall said.
Hall spent years hooked on meth and arrested multiple times, the last time, for cooking it.
"It's just an endless nightmare, I mean, it's a schizophrenic paranoid world," he said. "You become its slave."
He says he was a slave to the drug until he worked as a chaplain in the prison system.
"Prison was kind of a seminary to me," Hall said.
He said he got clean in prison and never looked back. After he served his time, he returned to prison to counsel other addicts, eventually forming The Recovery Church in Duncan.
"It's a renewing of your mind, it's entirely walking away from the environment you're in and getting into a new environment," he said.
And each week, former addicts come together looking to a higher power to stay clean.
"I was craving something," said McKinney. "I was craving security and a safe place and I stumbled in here and i found it, you know, found god in my life."
My life is great," said Sims. "I got out of jail and started coming here, my husband comes here. I don't ever want to go back to that person ever again."
But for many people, they remain in the darkness of meth.
"I don't like it and I wish I could tell you that I see an end to it in the near future but I can't," said Hicks.