Target 11 Investigates the return of meth to Pennsylvania

A warning from the United States Attorney here In Western Pennsylvania: Scott Brady told Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle the Pittsburgh region should brace itself for an influx of meth and crystal meth.

“Nationally they’ve talked about this as the fourth wave of the opioid epidemic. It’s not the one pot, you know, homemade meth operations that we saw maybe ten years ago. Right now it’s cartel meth, Mexican cartel meth that has a purity level of 93 to 95 percent or greater,“ said Brady.

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Brady told Earle the northwest region of Pennsylvania, including Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango, Warren and Jefferson counties, has been hit hard.

“It has devastated those communities and now we’re starting to see it come into the southwest as well. It’s coming into this area up from West Virginia, coming over from Ohio. The southwest was really opioids, fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack. We’re somewhat immune to meth, but that’s changing - that’s going to change,“ said Brady.

Three years ago, during the height of the heroin epidemic in southwestern Pennsylvania, Earle traveled to the border of Mexico and got an up close look at efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Border Patrol in Laredo, Texas along the Rio Grande to disrupt the heroin pipeline.

Brady said some of the same Mexican cartels that pushed heroin into our area are now using the same pipelines to distribute meth.

“It’s crystallized and it comes in that form. The cartels have extensive distribution networks throughout the United States that we are constantly trying to disrupt and close down,“ said Brady.

Brady said the DEA and the state police have busted shipments of meth bound for New York and Philadelphia.

And, in an effort to prepare communities in the Pittsburgh region, Brady is meeting with local law enforcement agencies in and around the Pittsburgh area.

“We’re going to do it the same way we’ve attacked the opioid epidemic. We’re going to be shoulder to shoulder with our state and local partners,“ Brady said.

Experts blame the uptick in meth on several things. Among them, they said the federal government clamped down on over the counter drugs that were used to make meth. They are no longer readily available without a prescription and in that, the feds contend, the Mexican cartels saw an opening. Finally, meth is cheaper and more potent than other drugs and now more widely available.