Crystal meth overtaking heroin as drug of choice, Upper Darby police say

UPPER DARBY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Just when you thought America had its hands full with the heroin epidemic, authorities are seeing a new problem emerging.

Upper Darby police say drug dealers are now switching it up and heavily pushing a concoction of crystal meth and fentanyl - turning heroin addicts into crystal meth addicts.

"I wouldn't say it's reached epidemic levels but its quickly becoming epidemic," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

He says the trend towards crystal meth in Upper Darby and communities like it is being pushed by drug cartels. They're selling it cheap, and they're selling it potent.

The result?

"The methamphetamine is taking over the heroin trade slowly but surely. Almost every arrest that we make now is methamphetamine, not heroin," he said.

Unlike heroin, which police say can practically turn people into zombies, crystal meth can keep people up for days at a time and causes many people "to become crazy, to become paranoid, and to become very, very violent," said Chitwood.

Of course, Upper Darby is not alone. According to the latest figures from the DEA, 13 of 21 of the agencies field offices across the country report methamphetamine availability to be high with deaths skyrocketing since 2005 and most of it they say is coming from Mexico through the Southern Border.

Looking to expand their customer base, the cartels are slashing prices on a gram of meth from $1,000 an ounce a year ago to just $500 an ounce today in Upper Darby.

"They're telling their dope dealers to let them try and get rid of the methamphetamine for nothing until they become addicted," said Chitwood.

Recently arrested by Upper Darby police is 48-year-old Brian Grimley and 43-year-old Gordon Griffin. Police say both caught red-handed with eight pounds of pure crystal meth and an Uzi Mac-10. Both are charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute.

Christine Rizzo, who runs the Shevlin Foundation in Chester aimed at helping drug addicts recover, says they have seen an uptick in the number of addicts using both meth and cocaine.

"Meth is becoming the new heroin because the supply is so great, so the drug dealers are pushing mass amounts of meth into the streets," she said.

Rizzo reminds us that it's National Recovery Month and its time to start seriously thinking about how we get people into treatment in a more meaningful than we have in the past.
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