Meth still big factor in county’s felony cases
Meth is a factor in 70 percent of Mesa County’s felony drug cases
Meth use has decreased in Mesa County, but it’s still the drug that addicts reach for first, according to a recently released study.
The first of a three-part report headed by former Mesa State professor Dr. Michael Gizzi outlines the findings of interviews with more than 200 offenders in five jails in Mesa, Delta, Moffat, Montrose and Garfield counties.
A previous study headed by Gizzi, released in August 2007, showed that the criminal case filings of meth cases in Mesa County increased by more than 40 percent between 1999 and 2007. Meth use peaked in 2006 and was a factor in 89.3 percent of cases in Mesa County.
In fiscal year 2008, meth involvement declined to 69 percent of the caseload, the study showed. That may be because of an increase in local enforcement efforts and a decrease of supply from Mexican drug-trafficking operations, Gizzi said.
Meth is a factor in 70 percent of Mesa County’s felony drug cases, though the total number of felony cases has decreased.
As of this week, Mesa County’s 2008 felony cases have reached 1,788, which probably will mean a lower yearly total than in recent years. In fiscal year 2007, the total number of felony cases reached 2,152.
The number of meth-related arrests slowed most dramatically in April and June of 2008, the report showed, but this period also showed the starkest increase in cocaine-related arrests.
“The fact that the caseload has not diminished, just replaced with cocaine, suggests that it is likely that cocaine is the substitute drug,” the report reads.
Gizzi presented the study’s results Tuesday night to a crowd of about 30 at Mesa State College. Research was conducted by Jennifer Sheetz and Dr. Patrick Gerkin, Ph.D of Grand Valley State University, as well as some Mesa State College students.