Earlier this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized a massive, clandestine shipment of methamphetamine concealed within children’s toys. The shipment, nearly 10 pounds of meth, was seized at Muhammad Ali International Airport in Louisville, Ky. This comes five years after authorities reported that meth had become one of the most popular illicit drugs in Louisville. It also coincides with meth becoming the most used illegal drug in Tennessee, a state just south of Kentucky.
Recent Customs Bust at Louisville Airport
Authorities found children’s toys at the airport containing not only methamphetamine but also cocaine. The majority of the shipment, which also contained Chromebooks, was used to hide meth. Meth-soaked Nerf toys accounted for seven pounds’ worth of the drug. Another two pounds of meth laced several Chromebooks. Similarly, the shipment involved trumpets, which had cocaine in them.
“CBP encounters narcotics and other contraband concealed in an ever-changing variety of items,” said Thomas Mahn. He’s the CBP port director in Louisville. “Our officers remain vigilant, often using their experience and intuition to discover these concealment methods to keep dangerous drugs out of our communities.”
Officials reported that criminals who transport these kinds of drug transports in such large quantities might use any of several methods. The CBP deploys a lot of personnel and allocates a lot of man hours to disrupting these supply chains.
Metro Police Data from 2017
Police data from 2017 revealed that more people in Louisville were being charged for possessing meth than both heroin and opioids combined. By late 2017, data became available for the previous five years regarding both the possession and trafficking of meth. At the time, media attention was more focused on heroin and opioids.
Heather Gibson has served as director of program services for the Healing Place for the past decade. In 2017, she attested to an influx of meth-addicted patients into her center. She said at the time that many were using a more potent version coming from clandestine labs in Mexico.
The Healing Place has two facilities in Louisville, one for women and another for men. Both facilities operate as addiction treatment centers. Praxis of Louisville by Landmark Recovery uniquely collaborates with them now to provide transitional housing for patients that complete residential drug and alcohol treatment but need to do outpatient rehab.
“Meth lasts longer,” Gibson said. “Heroin, you have to use several times a day or you physically get ill. Methamphetamine is going to give you more bang for your buck; it’s going to last a lot longer.”
The Historic Eb and Flow of Meth Charges
The 1990s saw a trend of home-grown labs in cities all over the country. These meth labs became the target of government intervention. In Louisville, there were 100 meth labs reported in 2010 yet only five in 2017.
These reports reflect police charges for manufacturing the drug in each respective year. This also reflects a trend that proved relatively consistent nationwide. Despite the decrease in Breaking Bad-style labs over the years, though, LMPD data shows possession and trafficking charges increasing.
In 2007, only six people were charged for trafficking meth. The same year saw 60 people charged for possession of meth. In 2017, almost 1,000 people had been charged with possession of meth by November with 401 having been charged with trafficking the substance. That year also officially saw methamphetamine charges surpass the combined heroin and opioid charges.
Findings Echo Tennessee Seizures
At the Mid-South Addiction Conference 2022, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch addressed the rise of meth over cocaine and heroin. Cities like Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville are all seeing similar trends. According to Rausch, meth reached the top of the list in 2019.
This tracks with what authorities have been previously reporting in Kentucky. Methamphetamine was, if anything, two years behind schedule in Tennessee.
Even though there are lots of drugs holding people’s attention because of what they’re contributing to the death toll, don’t take your eye of meth. Don’t allow anything to become an excuse to use meth as opposed to any other substance. If you or someone you know wrestles with stimulant use disorder, visit Landmark Recovery of Louisville or call 502.309.2675.