Video: 'Ice' has drug agents scrambling

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/29/2007 7:14:34 PM ET 2007-03-29T23:14:34

In rural Cumberland County, Tenn., sheriff's deputies are trying to stop the spread of "ice," the latest illegal drug to sweep the country.

"It's definitely a problem, says Deputy Al Seitner. "It's getting worse and worse every day."

"You can get it on any corner today, and kids are starting to use it younger and younger," says former meth addict Jeff Bodine.

Ice is a powerful form of the stimulant methamphetamine and is very addictive.

Dr. Mary Holley, the director of Mothers Against Methamphetamine, says it quickly damages the brain.

"The very first time you use ice methamphetamine, it damages and destroys the cells that give you control over your life," Holley says.

In the last few years, through arrests and laws restricting chemicals used to make methamphetamine, authorities were able to dramatically reduce meth labs in the United States. But now, those efforts around the country are being undercut by Mexican drug traffickers, who are mass-producing ice in big labs south of the border, then smuggling it throughout the U.S.

Drug agents raided a "superlab" near Guadalajara and in Mexico City seized $205 million allegedly used to buy ice raw materials from Chinese smugglers. 

But the Mexican traffickers are undeterred and are moving east, making Atlanta a major U.S. distribution hub.

"We are a source city for as far north as New York, New Jersey, Boston," says Sherri Strange, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Atlanta.

For Cumberland County, Tenn., Sheriff Butch Burgess, the Mexican traffickers bring new problems.

"Different language, different nationalities, and it's something we've got to catch up with," Burgess says.

The DEA says 80 percent of all meth consumed in the U.S. comes from Mexico now. And the newest form, ice, is spreading fast.

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