MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Alarming – that’s how law enforcement officials describe the record amount of drugs seized in Minnesota last year.
Public safety officials say that in 2016 officers seized 488 pounds of meth, a 484 percent increase from 2009, when meth seizures were at their lowest levels.
Seizures of prescription pills, including opioids, is also up in 2016. Authorities say officers took more than 58,000 pills off the streets.
“The alarming rate which drugs are being seized in the Twin Cities to greater Minnesota should concern every single Minnesotan,” said Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman at a Monday news conference.
Law enforcement officials say even though the number of meth labs in Minnesota dropped from 410 in 2003 to just 13 last year, the drug continues to be accessible.
“Meth continues to flow into our state,” said Brian Marquart, a drug coordinator with the Department of Public Safety. “It is primarily sourced out of the country of Mexico and makes its way into Minnesota through commercial and private vehicles.”
Meth use is a problem all across the state, both in cities and rural areas.
Faribault, which is 50 miles south of Minneapolis, has seen a 208 percent increase in meth seizures between 2015 and 2016.
“Methamphetamine is really off the charts in Minnesota, we have never seen this before,” said Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen.
The seizure of illegal pills that contain synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, jumped dramatically as well, with four times as many seizures in 2016 as compared to 2012.
Officials say most of the illegal pills are shipped to Minnesota from China.
Law enforcement officials are working with the U.S. Postal Service to try to better identify packages containing illegal drugs.
However, Dohman, the commissioner of public safety, says the problem cannot simply be tackled by law enforcement.
She called on parents, educators and the peers of those who take drugs to say enough is enough.