CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Drug Enforcement Administration agents say millions of dollars in meth and other drugs are running up and down the Charlotte-area's interstates, trafficked by dangerous drug kingpins from Mexico.
Agents say Charlotte's booming population is partly to blame.
"We've seen increased cartel activity here," DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eric Conaway said. "Increase in population equals increase in demand. The cartels know this and they're going to fill that demand."
In recent years, law enforcement agencies have found drugs, cash and guns at traffic stops on and near I-40, a truck stop in Salisbury, the Mexican border headed to Hickory and on the streets of Charlotte.
"Overall, meth is king right now," Conaway said. "It's coming in large, large quantities from Mexico. Right now meth is at an all-time high in purity and an all-time low in price."
Conaway said there's now so much meth around here, crystal meth is almost just as affordable as high-grade marijuana. He said buyers are interested in what they consider to be the benefits of the drug.
"It makes them be more alert and productive if they're working and it can get out of their system quicker," Conaway said.
The DEA said the days of home cooks making meth in rural North Carolina are long gone, replaced by chemists in super labs in Mexico who are hired by drug trafficking organizations.
Conaway said the meth is shipped in liquid form to Atlanta where it's converted to crystal meth and brought to the Charlotte-area, often in tractor-trailers.
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