CENTRALIA — The Lewis County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team is working with state and federal law enforcement to determine if methamphetamine laced with fentanyl, a popular drug on the East Coast right now, is being distributed locally and along the West Coast.
“They call it ‘monster meth,’ it’s pretty popular right now in the East Coast and it’s when they are finding fentanyl laced into the methamphetamine,” JNET detective Adam Haggerty said.
As of now, JNET is still in the preliminary stages of the work to determine if “monster meth” is in Lewis County, meaning they are testing the methamphetamine they seize and working with the Lewis County Coroner’s Office to see if any of the overdose deaths involving methamphetamine locally have been due to meth laced with fentanyl.
The Coroner’s Office has reported 14 overdose deaths with 12 of them involving methamphetamine in 2020.
“My curiosity will always be in there because I want to know why, after all these years, people who were not usually dying from meth overdoses are (dying) now,” Haggerty said.
However, none of the confirmed overdose deaths involving meth have indicated fentanyl was in their blood, according to Coroner Warren McLeod, but six suspected overdose deaths are still pending toxicology reports. Earlier this year, McLeod reported that during the same time last year and the year before his office only saw one meth overdose each.
Toxicology reports typically take 14 to 15 days to be completed, then another 24 to 48 hours to be reviewed by a pathologist before it returns to the Coroner’s Office, McLeod said.
JNET is also testing the meth that they are seizing. Most recently, JNET found 22 pounds of meth under the floorboard of a van driving on Interstate 5 as well as 26,000 fentanyl pills that they seized in a drug deal in separate busts.
According to Haggerty, JNET is working to get those drugs tested at a lab, either the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab or a federal lab in San Francisco.
But Haggerty noted that testing can be a time-consuming process.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the productivity of labs capable of testing the meth, which can bog down the work even more.
“We’re kind of in the beginning stages of this but we’re tracking it, we do know that it is in the U.S. and we would assume easily that it is probably over this way (in the West Coast) too,” Haggerty said.