Today, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke spoke on the House floor and called for immediate action to combat the growing epidemic of methamphetamine use. Watch the video here.
“We need to stop this drug from making its way into our communities; we need to secure the southern border,” said Zinke. “The FBI, DEA, Border Patrol, and local law enforcement all say the same thing: Mexico is where the preponderance of the drugs are coming from. We know how to stop this. We can shut it down. And we can secure our southern border. Once the flow has been cut off, we must also empower our health providers to help addicts and users with a path for a full recovery. Too often those who suffer addiction also battle with mental health issues; sadly it drives many to take their own lives. I was at a powwow with the Assiniboine-Sioux and a gentleman told me they have a term for it, ‘oh-nee-ah-pay’, which means complete loss of hope. I haven’t lost hope. I believe this House and this nation are up for the task.”
The Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, and local law enforcement officials all cite the porous southern border between the U.S. and Mexico as the nexus of the growing meth epidemic. U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego reported an enormous increase in confiscation of meth. San Diego’s border patrol said that seizures increased in the 2014 fiscal year by 43 percent. And meth seizures in just that one area accounted for almost half (47.7%) of all the methamphetamine seized by the Border Patrol nationwide. By comparison, according to the Justice Department, 3,478 kilograms of meth were confiscated on the southern border in 2009, compared to 10 kilos on the northern border. (more recent data was not immediately available)
According to the Missoulian, “The Missoula County Attorney’s Office has 62 open cases of meth possession or distribution so far this year, on track with last year’s 117 cases – and a sharp increase from 2007’s zero meth cases. The Missoula Drug Task Force has seen a 38 percent increase in meth seizures just over the past year.” The Northwest Montana Drug Task Force confiscated more methamphetamine in the first six months of 2016 than it did during all of 2015.
The meth epidemic is also pushing the state Department of Family Services foster care system to its limits. The Flathead Beacon reported, “According to DFS, there were 851 children in foster care in 2010 due to abuse or neglect resulting from parental substance abuse. In early April of this year that number was 1,658. Local data shows that 59 percent of the 160 cases filed this year in Cascade County have some tie to meth.”
Rep. Zinke supports legislation to build a fence on the southern border, increase border security, and cut funding for “sanctuary cities” that choose to not enforce immigration laws. Zinke also voted for bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid epidemic which helps curtail meth use by attacking the addiction of pain killers which are considered gateway drugs to meth.