Recent raids by Tucumcari Police have underscored the crystal methamphetamine problem in the city. Chief Deputy District Attorney Donald Schutte explained the easy availability of the addictive drug.
“Crystal meth is not hard to obtain based on my experience with the ease that undercover agents have been able to get into a house to purchase the drug,” said Schutte. “These agents come from out of town and are quickly able to find out from local residents where to get crystal meth.”
Schutte said he understands the allure of crystal meth and its ease of production. “A person, after one session of smoking crystal meth, will have increased energy for about three days,” he said. “Police officers often refer to this condition on the part of the drug user as being ‘tweaked’. Crystal meth can be made in a person’s bathtub from common household chemicals.”
Schutte said there are several reasons to arrest crystal meth users and prosecute them. “First, it is against the law. Secondly, if we allowed these people to use the drugs, then kids would be exposed to the drug usage,” he said. “The third reason is that about 85% of all crime in town is the result of someone on drugs or someone needing money to buy a controlled substance.”
Lt. Charles Newman of Tucumcari Police agreed with Schutte as to crystal meth’s impact on overall crime figures.
“A lot of burglaries and domestic violence incidents follow in the wake of crystal meth use,” said Newman. “Stopping crystal meth is a high priority for us.”
Schutte said that crystal meth can lead to extreme paranoia in habitual users. “There are truck drivers known to frequently use crystal meth because it gives them the energy to drive for long periods of time,” he said. “But then an officer comes upon one of those truck drivers pulled up onto the median of a highway. The truck driver is claiming there are (UFO) aliens inside his trailer.”
Legal penalties are severe for possession and for selling of crystal meth, but first-time offenders can often avoid prison time by undergoing state-mandated counseling.
“We have an 80 percent success rate for first-time offenders and about a 60 percent success rate for second-time offenders,” said Schutte. “After that the success rate is much worse. We try to be fair in prosecuting these cases. We don’t want to see someone throw their life away, but on the other hand we can’t let the situation get out of hand.”
Schutte estimates there are less than 200 Quay County residents who buy and/or sell crystal meth. “Most of the dealers are small-time dealers, but I think the police are aware of big-time dealers in town,” said Schutte “Catching the big-time distributors is difficult because they have become big-time dealers because they have been successful in not getting caught.”
Lt. Newman echoed Schutte in saying local police are aware of who some of the major drug dealers are.
Schutte said sooner or later the big-time dealers will get caught.