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State at war with meth


According to The 2018 Statewide Drug Statistics report, South Dakota is at war with drugs — particularly methamphetamines. The state’s war on meth is clearly illustrated in this report. Here’s how:

In 2018, South Dakota law enforcement saw 3,684 arrests for methamphetamine. These arrests resulted in more than 45,918 grams — more than 101 pounds — of meth being seized.

“A 101 pounds of meth is still a lot of meth,” said Tim Bormann, chief of staff with the Attorney General’s Office. He relayed that, according to most scientists, 150 milligrams of meth (1,000 milligrams makes one gram) if taken orally is enough to produce a fatal situation (could die from overdose).

Depending on the user’s age, weight, health and other factors this might not kill them, but would still create a fatal situation. If injected, the fatal situation amount of meth is 100 milligrams. Smoking 50 milligrams can cause extremely harmful, serious ramifications (more so than the usual illegal use of it).

“Like all drugs, it’s a sliding scale, and affects everyone differently,” said Bormann. “For that, there is no hard and fast science.” Bormann added that one gram of meth goes for around $80 street value.

Bormann supplied the 2018 year-ending statistics for South Dakota showing methamphetamine arrests and amounts seized. These same statistics are broken down by county. In 2018, the Pennington County (Rapid City) Task Force saw 1,220 meth arrests, with more than 11,089 grams seized. The Sioux Falls Task Force saw 1,091 arrests, with more than 9,281 grams seized.

All but six counties — Sanborn, Miner, Deuel, Hyde, Sully and Bennett — reported arrests and/or seizures.

“It is possible that they did not make a drug arrest,” said Bormann. “There are some counties that do not report, or only report partially. They could have arrests but no drugs actually recovered, because the drugs were ingested or there were not enough remains in a measurable amount, such as dust remnants in a baggy.”

Bormann pointed to Faulk County, where there was a meth lab was set-up, but it was discovered before any meth could actually be manufactured.

“The info is gathered by a combination of local and state law enforcement,” said Bormann. “The Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) then shares this with HIDTA which is the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program run under the auspices of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). South Dakota is in the Midwest Area of HIDTA, which is run from offices in Kansas City, Missouri.

For Hughes County (Pierre) there were 25 arrests and 86.361 grams of meth seized in 2018. Stanley County (Fort Pierre) reported two arrests and 3.61 grams seized. Sully and Hyde counties reported no arrests or seizures. Jones County had one arrest and 1,293 grams, and Lyman county had seven arrests and .871 grams seized.

Meth is not the only drug that law enforcement must deal with.

“There is simply a lot of drugs. You are finding heroin amounts in all numbers of counties,” said Bormann. “Fentanyl is just horrendous; it can scare a person.”

There are also prescription drugs being abused. They are misappropriated, stolen, or otherwise brought to the streets.

Bormann tells of medical facility employees who are fired and then charged with stealing drugs (in mass or pill-by-pill). The report includes a very long list of prescription drugs seized in drug arrests. “All of these drugs have a street value. If they are out there, there is a market,” he said. Drugs can be stolen through big burglaries, or visitors taking unnoticed quantities. He tells of incidents where older people report some of their medication pills are missing, and they wonder if they over-used them without realizing it, lost them, or if someone took them.

“An arrest would not be made if something is reported, but an investigation would ensue. Authorities would not arrest anyone without evidence or trail of evidence of someone having done something,” said Bormann.

There is a multitude of ways this yearly and monthly reporting can be used,” said Bormann. “We can study how things are traveling, like along the Interstate 90 and I-29 corridors. Like with Corson County; how can we partner better with tribal law enforcement in the next year. Can we add some action, or more law enforcement positions, to get this stuff off of the streets? Where are local and state partnerships effective? Are local guys having a hard time, without assistance, staying on top of things? It’s never-ending on where and how these reports can be used.”

Once a year in South Dakota a destruction order is given. All seized drugs no longer being held in evidence are transported to one of the three labs (the State Lab in Pierre, a lab in Rapid City and a lab in Sioux Falls) to be destroyed.