Proliferating Methamphetamine Abuse in San Diego County

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, methamphetamine in the United States was most commonly produced in small to medium quantities in clandestine laboratories. These "labs" were set up in people's homes or garages, in storage units, or even motel rooms.

Since passage of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which regulated the sale of precursor chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, there has been a sharp decline in meth labs.

San Diego is a primary methamphetamine distribution hub

Now, most of the available methamphetamine in San Diego County is sourced from sophisticated drug manufacturing and distribution operations run by Mexican drug cartels. In May, it was announced that a coordinated effort involving federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies had produced the indictment of 43 members of a San Diego-based methamphetamine distribution network tied to the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Drug Enforcement Administration 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment cites Customs and Border Protection data demonstrating that 97 percent of all methamphetamine seizures occur at or near the southwest border. Moreover, methamphetamine seizures along the southwest border increased by 255 percent from 2012 to 2017. The majority (54%) of methamphetamine seized along the southwest border in 2017 occurred in the San Diego smuggling corridor.

CBP Methamphetamine Seizures

Methamphetamine Abuse in San Diego County

The San Diego County Methamphetamine Strike Force has just published a 2019 Report Card. The following statistics, excerpted from that report, are from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Indicator 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Unintentional Meth-Related Deaths 262 311 377 368 483
Rate per 100,000 residents 8.1 9.5 11.5 12.3 14.5
Unintentional Meth-Caused Deaths 173 209 239 271 328
Rate per 100,000 residents 5.4 6.4 7.3 8.2 9.8

Since these data only represent deaths examined by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, they are not comprehensive. Of the more than 22,000 deaths that occur each year in San Diego County, only about 3,000 of them require an investigation from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.