It’s been 20 years since annual armed-robbery statistics were as high in Albuquerque, N.M. as they were in 2016. In both cases, methamphetamine drugs were a main culprit.
Per the first of a two-part series in The Albuquerque Journal by Mike Gallagher, the mid-1990s meth was manufactured in so-called U.S. “super labs.” In the case of 2016 and 2017, which is on track to match or exceed last year’s total for armed robberies, it’s coming from south of the border:
The armed robbery explosion has been fueled by a combination of factors: massive influx of methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico, not enough cops, weak laws and new criminal justice system rules that placed a high priority on cutting the jail population and reducing the number of cases on judges’ dockets. …
Detectives have chased armed robbers who specialize in holding up pizza delivery drivers at gunpoint, shoppers entering or leaving stores and people using ATMs, as well as gas stations and convenience stories.
The increase has frustrated police, outraged many in the business community, become a political football and shows no signs of slowing down.
The cycle is vicious. Many of those arrested for committing armed robberies are heroin or meth addicts, stealing to pay for their habits. Investigative reporter Gallagher, in detailing three leaders of crews responsible for many 2016-17 robberies, shares a detail that sounds like it did come straight out of a TV series or movie. When Paul Salas robbed a Verizon store in March, he realized too late that the cellphones and GPS device he took along with some cash could lead the police straight to him.
Part Two of “Armed & Dangerous” runs Aug. 20 and will examine potential solutions to the current crisis. In the case of 1996 and years following, a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) crackdown on products containing chemicals that could be used to manufacture meth was a key element of success.
Previously on Fishbowl:
El Chapo: Master of the Fake Escape?
Image via: abqjournal.com