Utah Department of Public Safety

Investigations - Methamphetamine History

meth spread 1992Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887. In the 1930's is was put into medical practice as a nasal inhaler, known as a bronchia dialator, allowing asthmatics to breath more freely. During the Depression and Prohibition non-asthmatics, looking for a buzz, would remove the inhaler strips and soak them in their coffee.

Methamphetamine, more potent and easy to make, was discovered in Japan in 1919. The crystalline powder was soluble in water, thus making it easy for injection. It was also discovered that smoking the drug created the same effects as injecting. The Japanese army used methamphetamine during World War II to prevent sleepiness and was also provided it to their pilots during Kamakazi operations. After the war the drug became available to the public and subsequently produced a major outbreak of abuse, especially among the young people. Hitler was supposedly injected with Meth-amphetamine.

meth spread 1993Methamphetamine rose in popularity in California, home of many of the largest Methamphetamine labs in the country, and popularized by motorcycle gangs. Bikers were accused of introducing the drug into the psychedelic "60's causing violence. Since then it has been known by many names, such as Trailer Park Meth and BathTub Meth, because it can be cooked up so cheaply and easily. It is the drug of choice for long distance truckers and college students pulling all-nighters.

Over the counter ephedrine, or "white crosses", took the place of pharmaceutical amphetamine as an easy-to-get alternative.

meth spread 1994From the '60's to as late as 1993 it was not uncommon to see large (22 liter) reaction vessels, three foot Allihn condenser columns, Triple Neck reaction vessels, Buchner funnels, and separatory funnels. Chemicals that were found in these Clandestine Labs were bulk ephedrine, Phenyl-2-propanone, Ether, Hydriodic acid, Methylamine, Acetone, Benzyl chloride, Hydrochloric acid, Methyl ethyl ketone (2-Butanone), Sulfuric acid, and Lead acetate. However, with Federal controls being placed on numerous chemicals, it has made it harder for cookers to get their necessary ingredients, forcing them to find new and innovative ways of manufacturing Methamphetamine. Most of these lab locations were set up in one location, which the cooks would take major precautions with security to keep law enforcement from locating and subsequently seizing. Now in the '90's, as with the developing new high tech equipment to make ones job easier, the Methamphetamine cook has developed a newer simpler method of manufacturing. It requires minimal small pieces of glassware, Ephedrine or Pseudo-ephedrine, Iodine crystals, Red phosphorus, and water.

meth spread 1995Except for pure Ephedrine, the other chemicals are readily available, and are not against the law to possess. (It should noted here, that when all of these items are together, the individuals in possession, can be charged with attempted manufacturing of methamphetamine). With the size of the equipment and chemicals it is easy for a cook to pack these items in a suit case, small box or container, and transport the items to any location where he wishes to cook, (i.e., Motels, Apartments, Storage Sheds, or any other location). In the early years of manufacturing Methamphetamine cooks were instructed in the manufacturing process by other experienced cooks and they became proficient in the manufacturing process.

Today anyone who can read a recipe can manufacture meth. The Internet has numerous sites and documents on some of the dangers and the now -tos of Meth Manufacturing. The age groups have changed from their 30' and 40's, to early teens and 20's upwards to their 50's. The Ephedrine reduction method of manufacturing methamphetamine has become the most popular with Methamphetamine cooks today. Ephedrine importation has risen 20% per year for the last two years. State, Local, and Federal Law enforcement agencies have seized hundreds more labs throughout the United States.

The majority of the Methamphetamine available in the United States is controlled by traffickers from Mexico who manufacture the product in Mexico, or in major labs in California and the Southwest. There are still hundreds of other labs across the United States, in the Midwest, Southeast, as well as in the Southwest, and California, which are operated on a smaller scale, however are no less a threat to the well being of Americans.meth spread 1996

In many of these labs the cooks rely on pseudoephedrine products to manufacture their product. The large scale operators in Mexico, or those truckers operating large labs within the United States, have relied, in the past, on ephedrine, which is now controlled in the U.S.. However, these traffickers have found an alternate source of ephedrine from countries such as China, the Czech Republic and India.

The Mexican traffickers are utilizing well established smuggling routes to move the methamphetamine and bulk ephedrine to the large Clandestine Labs within the United States. The manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine are a serious problem to the national public which require stronger Federal and State action. Nationally, over 700 methamphetamine-related deaths were documented in the United States in 1994. This is only an indicator of a larger abuse problem involving hundreds of thousands of Americans. These users suffer from mental and physical injury, loss of opportunity, and disruption of families. There is also substantial evidence that the abuse of methamphetamine is associated with violent behavior and criminal activity. Despite the efforts by U.S. law enforcement, the production, distribution, and abuse continues to grow at an alarming rate. Data from medical examiners reporting to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) show that there have been 2,439 methamphetamine related deaths for the period of 1991 - 1995. Approximately three-fourths or 1,896 of these deaths occurred in the last three years (1993 -1995). The cities of Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco, have accounted for 1,878 (73 percent) of the 2,439 deaths.

History of Methamphetamine & Amphetamine Timeline

Jan 18, 1887
Amphetamine was first synthesized by German chemist L. Edeleano and originally named phenylisopropylamine.

Methamphetamine, more potent and easy to make, was discovered in Japan.

Amphetamines are first marketed as 'Benzedrine' in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat congestion.

Amphetamine is first available in tablet form by prescription for use in the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

World War II
Amphetamine widely distributed to soldiers to help them keep fighting.

Dextro-amphetamine and methamphetamine become commonly available.

Amphetamine becomes illegal with the passage of the 'U.S. Drug Abuse Regulation and Control Act of 1970'.

courtesy of erowid.org

[Last Update - Friday, 08-Mar-2013 16:25:37 MST]