Methamphetamine arrests have increased in more than one-third of South Dakota’s 66 counties this year, records indicate.
Through Oct. 31, the number of arrests for methamphetamine possession in 25 counties is higher than all of last year, according to statistics provided to the Capital Journal by the attorney general’s office.
Similar to 2012, the counties with the largest cities in the state have seen the most arrests. Pennington and Minnehaha counties have had 387 and 385 arrests, respectively. That is up from last year, when Pennington had 235 and Minnehaha had 287.
Several other counties throughout the state have had significant increases as well. Over a third of all West River counties, including Lawrence, Meade and Corson, have seen more arrests through October than in all of 2012. In Lawrence County alone, there have been 22 more arrests than last year.
Arrests are up in nearly 40 percent of East River counties, with Brown, Roberts and Davison counties seeing the largest increases outside of Minnehaha.
In total, more than 1,026 arrests have been made for meth in 41 counties. That is up from last year, when 669 arrests were made in 36 counties. The amount of meth seized this year, however, is down compared to last year when 48 pounds were seized. This year, approximately 29 pounds of meth have been seized.
In addition to the increased number of arrests, more meth labs have been discovered throughout the state in 2013 than last year. There have been 36 lab incidents in 2013, or nine more than in 2012.
Despite the rising number of arrests, authorities say they have yet to determine any long-term trends. “It is hard to tell what is driving it,” said Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom. He explained that the presence of drugs like methamphetamine tends to be cyclical. “It is too soon to tell if it is a trend or part of the cycle,” Thom said.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Michael Milstead concurred with Thom. “We kind of see peaks and valleys in particular with certain drugs,” said Milstead. Meth is not the only area of increase, he explained. This year, he said, there has been an increase in arrests in several different categories, including violent crimes and aggravated assaults.