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WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 26, 2013, 05:00 PM

60 on 6: A look back at local meth epidemic

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's been more than a decade since communities all across the region braced themselves for the scurge of meth. Meth had a grip on those using the addictive drug, as well as the dozens of towns in our area.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's been more than a decade since communities all across the region braced themselves for the scurge of meth. Meth had a grip on those using the addictive drug, as well as the dozens of towns in our area.

For a string of weeks that stretched into months and years, the epidemic of meth would lead the news at night with arrest after arrest. Meth users were found making the drug in the trunks of their cars in store parking lots; cooking from a recipe of ephedrine, anhydrous ammonia, Drano, brake fluid...

John Wagner: "It has a chemical burn to it. It stings your nostrils and makes your eyes water."

From the big metros to abandoned farmsteads in rural North Dakota and Minnesota, law enforcement had to scramble with the explosion of this new and deadly drug. It knew no boundaries - the rich the poor; the common criminal to the main street businessman.

Drew Wrigley - United States District Attorney, North Dakota: "That is $18,144,000 of methamphetamine proven beyond a reasonable doubt moved by this organization."

Fargo Police even hosted Meth ToolKit workshops, preparing the community for the epidemic.

Rick Majerus - Cass Deputy Sheriff: "Relating to methamphetamine, it's unreal what is going on."

Soon laws in our region curtailed the sale of certain ingredients in meth. The results were dramatic. For example, meth busts fell from 255 in 2004, to just 45 in 2006. Cooking and manufacturing dropped off big time.

While meth arrests are still made periodically, fewer are making and using. But the last 15 years will be known as the period of time when homemade manufacturing of drugs blanketed the region and changed how drug fighting was waged.

"When that rifle went off and i heard my wife scream, I knew the war on drugs had come to Richwood, Minnesota."

Nowhere has the problem been bigger than in the Midwest, where meth accounted for nearly 90% of all drug cases.

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