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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The View From Meth Capital, USA

Nitro, a K9 officer with the Merced County Sheriff's Department, and his handler Deputy Chris Picinigh,(cq) leave the home where a leader in the Nuestra Familia gang was arrested in Dos Palos, Calif. (AP)

In the Central Valley of California, a series of gruesome stories are highlighting the deep and wide impact of the epidemic of methamphetamine.

In Fresno, Calif., 23-year old Aide Mendez allegedly shot dead her children and cousin, she also seriously wounded her husband. She allegedly recorded herself smoking meth shortly beforehand.

Similarly, a Bakersfield, Calif., mother was sentenced this month for stabbing her newborn; she was believed to have been on the drug.

“Every time you turn around you see someone out of their mind, spun on meth and it instantly triggers extreme hunger for the drug.”

– Dr. Alex Stalcup,
who treats meth users in California

In California’s farm region, isolated tracts of land are an ideal place to hide meth labs from authorities. And from 2009 to 2010, meth busts there more than tripled.

Alongside that, there has been an uptick in meth-related crime — the theft of manhole covers, agricultural plumbing, copper wiring, lawn sprinklers, often sold to get more money for drugs.

Like A Dark Cloud Over Rural Communities

“It’s like a dark cloud, people get trapped in the drug life,” Dr. Alex Stalcup told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. He treats meth addicts in Lafayette, Calif., and he says the meth epidemic uniquely impacts close-knit rural communities, where addicts can have a hard time getting away from the drug.

“It’s hard to get away from your neighbors, church-going friends, people at the PTA… Every time you turn around you see someone out of their mind, spun on meth and it instantly triggers extreme hunger for the drug,” he said.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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