North Alabama's Drug Addiction: The business behind drugs

It does not matter what part of North Alabama you live in, drugs are in your community.

Posted: Sep 16, 2021 3:48 AM
Updated: Sep 16, 2021 9:57 AM

Years ago, a decent amount of the drugs consumed in North Alabama were made here in North Alabama. Sand Mountain gained the nickname ‘Meth Mountain’ due to the amount of meth labs in the area.

However, things have changed. Drugs are not necessarily made in Alabama to the extent they were just a decade ago.

For law enforcement to keep up with the drug industry, they have to understand, the business behind drugs.

"Everything stems from the drugs," Morgan County Deputy Celese Sharbutt said.

It does not matter what part of North Alabama you live in, drugs are in your community.

"The demand is always huge for drugs,” Dekalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said. “It's the number one complaint I'm sure every Sheriff would say that in every county."

But where these drugs come from is far different from just 20 years ago.

"The border crisis extends much further past the border,” U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville said. “It goes into every community in the United States of America."

Drugs are smuggled across the Mexican border, finding their way into every nook and cranny of America. North Alabama is no exception.

“Now you're basically changed from the meth lab - the meth house - to the meth dealers," Sheriff Welden said.

In 2020 alone, Mexican authorities saw an almost 500 percent jump in fentanyl seizures compared to 2019. However, drugs still were able to slip across the border.

"Most of the drugs that we get are not from here. They come from the border, or from Mexico or from other states where they're hubbed out at,” Welden said. “We're kind of sitting in a neutralized area where people pass through with them using the highways.”

That is why law enforcement all across North Alabama work together to get drugs off the streets. Each of the 10 sheriff’s offices across the region have some type of narcotics division or drug task force.

Many of their agents are undercover and working in plain clothes to infiltrate drug rings and eventually make a bust.

"No one wants to take credit as long as we get the dope off the streets," Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said.

Huntsville is now the most populous city in Alabama. With the title, comes a bulls-eye for drug traffickers.

"It makes us a target for these drug dealers to come in because they know we have a little extra income that might be willing to be spent on drugs," Huntsville Police Captain Jerry King said.

Captain King agrees with most of his fellow law enforcement officers across North Alabama. He said fentanyl is the newest, most popular deadly drug in the region.

"Now most recently we're seeing an uptick in fentanyl,” King said. “And not just the fact that fentanyl is being sold but the fact that the buyers are actually requesting fentanyl which is leading to a lot of our overdose cases,"

One of the most concerning aspects of fentanyl is that it is cheap, highly addictive, and provides a stronger high. Authorities say a lot of times users are buying drugs like meth, that are now laced with fentanyl, unbeknownst to them.

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