AP NEWS

Somerset County DA comments on drug trends

March 30, 2019

The state is seeing higher cocaine and methamphetamine use in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the Johnstown area, it was reported earlier this month by the Associated Press.

Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser commented on the development and explained what the current drug market looks like in her jurisdiction.

“A broad brushstroke on cocaine is that it is not making as big of a comeback here as in more urban areas because of the price,” she said. “However, meth is on the rise and is being used in combination with fentanyl, heroin, marijuana and prescribed medications to include alprazolam, benzos, gabapentin.”

Jennifer Smith, secretary for Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, told a state Senate committee on March 4 that the state is seeing higher cocaine and methamphetamine use in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the Johnstown area. She indicated those areas are usually the first three to show new trends across Pennsylvania.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Mexican drug cartels are ramping up their import and distribution of methamphetamines into the United States and regions like the Northeast, where it is traditionally hard to find. In 2017, the DEA tracked 347,807 meth seizures, which is a 118 percent increase over 2010.

Pat Trainor, spokesman for the DEA, said that drugs never disappeared from the market. But they are in more abundant supply. The narcotics are being trafficked by the same Mexican transnational entities that deal in heroin and fentanyl.

“We have seen meth and cocaine do the same thing although meth is far stronger than cocaine,” Trainor said. “We have seen people who were straight opioid users who do use drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in addition to using an opioid. I think that is kind of to bring them up after they use an opioid. We see a lot of people use both of those types of drugs. That’s worth noting.”