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The Drug Enforcement Administration saw a huge jump in methamphetamine seizures in North Dakota in 2018 as the drug becomes more accessible in the region.

For fiscal year 2018, which ended on Sept. 30, the DEA seized 61.82 pounds of meth in North Dakota, up from 3.08 pounds that were seized in the state the year before.

“Local and state law enforcement have probably seized an equal amount if not more,” said Ken Solek, assistant special agent in charge for the Minneapolis DEA Office.

Meth seizures

The Drug Enforcement Administration has seen a jump in meth seizures throughout the region for fiscal year 2018, which ended on Sept. 30. The figures do not include meth seized by local and state law enforcement agencies.

State 2017 2018
North Dakota 3.08 pounds 61.82 pounds
South Dakota 7.48 pounds 25.74 pounds
Minnesota 565.4 pounds 636.46 pounds

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said local and state agencies are seeing the same trend.

“I’ve been hearing this from our agents regularly for the last couple of years,” Stenehjem said. “A lot of the attention is on heroin and fentanyl, which is proper, but they are still saying meth is the biggest drug problem that we have.”

The price for meth has dropped dramatically and the purity level is “astonishing,” Stenehjem said.

“This is 98, 99 percent pure, which is very dangerous,” Stenehjem said.

The primary source of the meth is cartels in Mexico, Solek said. It’s often distributed through the Twin Cities in Minnesota then to North Dakota and South Dakota, he said.

Solek attributes the jump in North Dakota meth seizures to the increase in the supply of meth as well as better coordination among agencies.

When law enforcement agencies pool their resources, they’re able to develop more significant cases and disrupt organizations that are supplying the meth, Solek said.

“When you see large seizures like that, it means we’re working our way up into the food chain a little higher, a little bit better,” he said.

Another concern for law enforcement is drug traffickers are traveling with more firearms, Stenehjem said.

“We’re seeing these folks are heavily armed,” Stenehjem said.

In 2017, the counties that sent the most samples of meth to the state crime lab were Burleigh, Cass and Williams, Stenehjem said.

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(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)

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