Meth continues to be large problem for central Ark. law enforcem - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Meth continues to be large problem for central Ark. law enforcement

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BENTON (KATV) - Police were applauded on Monday night when Mayor David Mattingly delivered his State of the City address, citing Benton Police department's efforts in getting nearly $6,000,000 worth of illicit drugs off the streets in 2013.  Out of the amount seized by law enforcement, nearly half of the dollar amount is tied to methamphetamine seizures – a continuing problem across the state.

"It's a pretty substantial amount, especially for a community of 30,000 people," said Lt. Kevin Russell, Benton PD.

Last year alone, Benton Police seized nearly $630,000 worth of marijuana, $1,800,000 worth of cocaine, but the big bust was with meth with nearly $2,800,000 worth of ice taken off Benton streets.

Russell mentioned the pseudoephedrine law passed several years ago, a measure to prevent meth from being made, worked somewhat.

"That kind of cut down on the numbers briefly, for a couple of years," said Russell.  "And it has still cut down on the number of home-grown labs, labs that are operating here."

But Russell says meth has been on the rise recently – now concerned with "superlabs" producing mass quantities of the drug and shipping it north of the border from Mexico.

Meth isn't just a concern in Benton.  In White County, according to CADTF's 2013 numbers, nearly 87.73 pounds of methamphetamine was cleared out of the Searcy area – valued at about $3.96 million dollars.  Other drug seizures like 32 pounds of marijuana, 21.9 grams of cocaine, 60.5 grams of crack and 20 LSD doses doesn't even compare to their meth confiscation.

Conway is also seeing a growing meth problem with nearly 35 pounds of the drug taken off the streets in 2013, according to their annual narcotics report.  Again, methamphetamine is overshadows the 155.4 grams of cocaine, 77 pounds of marijuana, 36 ecstacy pills and 823 miscellaneous confiscated pharmaceuticals.

Of the $13.4 million worth of seized narcotics from the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office – they too say meth continues to be a big percentage of that dollar amount.

But in places like the City of Pine Bluff and Garland, Grant, Clark and Hot Spring counties – the predominant drug continues to be marijuana. 

For the Ninth East Judicial District Drug Task Force, covering Clark, Grant and Hot Spring counties – 2013 brought 13.63 pounds of weed, 78 marijuana plants, 4.1 ounces of crack, 9 grams of cocaine, 3,848 assorted prescription pills and 2.17 pounds of methamphetamine.  All the drugs seized totaled $234,183 in 2013.

The Pine Bluff Vice Unit reported $260,025 worth of drugs seized in 2013 – of that nearly 34 pounds of pot was confiscated, 258.49 grams of crack and cocaine and 102.6 grams of meth.

In Garland County, according to the 18th Judicial District East Drug Task Force, $2,706,618 in illicit drugs was seized in 2013.  Of that 274 pounds of marijuana was seized, one pound of crack/cocaine, and 14 pounds of ice (meth) was removed from the streets around Hot Springs. 

North Little Rock too had nearly 410 pounds of pot confiscated in 2013.  When it came to meth, 15.57 pounds was seized - cocaine and crack came in at 8.8 pounds confiscated.

And although it's not a huge problem now, prescription drug abuse is growing.  Benton PD snatched up nearly $340,000 worth of oxycontin in 2013.

"They typically say that they use it because they think it's safe because it's legal," said Russell, referring to the growing use of pain killers and other prescription drugs.

All agencies contacted for this story said pills are a problem they are continuing to watch and unfortunately continuing to see grow.