Drug busts just the tip of the ice

Undercover investigation and anonymous tips lead to the arrest of nine alleged drug dealers.

According to Lt. Steve Albertsen, with the Tri-Net interagency narcotics task force, investigators coordinated information from other cases, the Secret Witness tip line and suspect interviews to coordinate the arrests earlier this week.

They also used undercover officers and informants involved with local drug activity, he said.

"We bought (drugs) from these people before and knew they would sell to us," he said. "We just try to order larger quantities and go up the ladder."

Tuesday's seizure netted 6 pounds of methamphetamine, he said.

Officials believe the methamphetamine came from central of Southern California.

Albertsen said methamphetamine is becoming common to the Carson Country area.

"The whole West Coast is exploding with this stuff," he said. "Meth is the drug of choice now. It's taken over cocaine, it's very addictive and it's easily abused."

Since the early '90s, when methamphetamine use was more obscure, Albertsen says he has seen its presence increase exponentially.

"Back in 1990, we were buying grams and eight-balls (1/8 ounce) and now we are buying ounces and pounds."

Albertsen said the drug's easy production and highly addictive, powerful stimulating effect on the user, have put cocaine and other more expensive designer drugs in the backseat.

Starting a methamphetamine lab, and producing a substantial quantity is just a matter of knowing where to get the raw materials and how to mix them, he said.

"If you now what you're doing, you can do it yourself," he said. "You can get it right off the Internet."

All of the chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine can be bought legally in the United States. The only ingredient difficult to obtain, effedrin, is produced without restriction in Mexico. Albertsen said it is smuggled into the United States for use in drug production.

Meth cooks unable to get their hands on some pure effedrin have figured out ways to extract it from over the counter medicines readily available at retail stores, he said.

Albertsen said the labs surely exist in Carson City and go undetected. Also, meth cooks are resorting to renting motel rooms were they produce the drugs and move on after a few days, leaving the toxic waste behind.

"In Las Vegas, finding them is an almost daily occurrence," he said.


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