Meth use, arrests up in Webster County

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Webster County Sheriff's Deputy Tyler Holbrook demonstrates how drug evidence is processed. According to law enforcement, drugs like meth remain a problem in the county.

Methamphetamine use and distribution is rising in Webster County, which is concerning for local law enforcement agencies.

Webster County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tom Steck gave a presentation of recent drug trends in the county to the Webster County Crime Stoppers on Friday morning.

“Methamphetamine is still our No. 1 most distributed, used and seized drug in Webster County,” he told The Messenger. “One of the big issues right now is just the sheer quantity of meth that’s coming in.”

Meth distributors have moved away from “one-pot meth labs,” Steck said, and have turned to importing the drug from areas where its street value is lower.

“When I first started in law enforcement, you could buy three grams of methamphetamine for $400 to $500,” he said. “Right now, you can go over to California and buy a pound for $600.”

In Webster County, a pound of meth has a street value of $7,500 to $10,000, Steck said.

“You look at the risk versus reward for them,” he said. “They go to California and get 10 pounds for $6,000 and come here and make $100,000 off of it.”

Another problem law enforcement is seeing with meth is that the market is so flooded with the drug, it’s become hard to pinpoint the individual dealers, he added.

Drug use and distribution is not a victimless crime, Steck emphasized. It may seem victimless at the time, and addiction is a disease, but it also often leads to property crime and violent crime.

Another class of drugs creating problems in Webster County are prescription pills.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve had several overdose deaths where individuals have thought they were buying a specific kind of pill — in these cases, Oxycontin,” Steck said.

Instead, he said, they’re buying counterfeit pills, which don’t have any binding agents and often are laced with other drugs.

Without binding agents to dilute the active drug in the pills, when they dissolve in the stomach, the user gets an “instant rush” of the drugs, Steck said. Fentanyl in these counterfeit drugs have also been causing overdose deaths.

“Addiction is a disease and we understand that,” Steck said, urging caution “because you don’t know what you’re buying anymore.”

Prescription drug use by teens is also a concern, he said.

Marijuana use hasn’t been growing, but certainly isn’t going anywhere, either, Steck said. The concern, he said, is the use of synthetic marijuana, which poses risks of being laced with other drugs and causing hallucinogenic effects.

Cocaine and crack cocaine are still around, Steck said, but aren’t nearly as prevalent as they once were.

“In 2016, cocaine was starting to infiltrate into the schools, a lot of younger kids I’d never seen using cocaine,” he said.

At the time, Steck was with the Fort Dodge Police Department, and he said he worked with the FBI and took down several cocaine dealers in the area.


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