Some of these factoids might surprise you; they surprised us, when we heard the infobursts presented by the featured guest at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, Steve Freng, who is a manager for the Northwest HIDTA (pronounced HIGH-tuh – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area). Read on for those infobursts, in bullet-point form:
*HIDTA is the name for various regions around the US identified as “critical centers of drug production, manufacturing, importing, distributing, chronic consuming”
*The Northwest HIDTA includes 14 contiguous counties along the I-5 corridor
*The job of the people who work for it: To reduce the demand for drugs (which in turn theoretically will reduce drug-related crime) by “supporting effective prevention and treatment programs thrughut the region” – combining a “public-safety approach with a public-health approach”
*In King County, HIDTA partners for prevention programs with Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNGi), which also provides staff to assist groups like West Seattle Crime Prevention Council and South Delridge/White Center Community Safety Coalition (among others)
*The “drug threats” in this region are marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription opiates; the Northwest has the dubious honor of having been the first region with five “threats”
*Over the past decade, the biggest “threat” has changed from heroin to meth – but authorities are most concerned, looking ahead, with prescription opiate abuse (oxycontin, Vicodin, etc.), particularly among juveniles
*Where drugs are produced is changing – “Ecstasy” is produced in “large, sophisticated” labs in British Columbia, whereas it used to be produced in Europe; meth is now produced in “superlabs” in California and Mexico much more than in the smaller labs that used to be prevalent around here, although Pierce County is still a hot spot
*Top drug that sends people to emergency rooms: Cocaine (2006 is the most recent official data)
*Top drug that sends people into treatment: Meth (almost half the 20,000-plus people in our state who entered treatment in 2006 were meth abusers)
*Top drug that sends juveniles into treatment: Marijuana (Freng noted, “What’s out there now is not what was out there 30 years ago – that was ditchweed, 3 percent THC [active ingredient], now that can be upwards of 20 percent.”)
*Top drug for overdose deaths: Prescription opiates, followed by cocaine, opiates/heroin, alcohol
*Cocaine is the “only drug for which Caucasians do not represent the majority of treatment admissions in Washington state”
*Drug “commerce” continues to grow around the world – between the ’80s and the ’90s, the number of countries with this kind of “commerce” went from 120 to 170 – current annual value of illicit drug sales: $321 billion
*If you want to tip authorities anonymously to a meth lab or other meth-related problem, there’s an anonymous hotline at 888/609-6384; Freng can be reached at email@example.com or 206/352-3603; the NW HIDTA website is at mfiles.org
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