DEA chief in LA: Meth trafficking remains SoCal's biggest drug threat

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Opioid abuse is a growing problem in Southern California, along with the methamphetamine market. Both issues, among others, keep the federal Drug Enforcement Administration busy in Los Angeles.

David Downing, the special agent in charge of the DEA's LA office, stopped by the Eyewitness News studio to talk about how the agency is fighting drug trafficking in the region.

While opioid abuse is becoming a national crisis, Downing says meth is a bigger problem in LA.

"Meth, in terms of Southern California, is still our biggest drug threat, unfortunately," Downing said. "Probably more so because of the potential profit margin from it."

High-purity meth is produced in clandestine labs in Mexico then brought over the border into Los Angeles, he said. Last year, the DEA seized $20 million in meth alone.

Downing said building a wall at the border would not necessarily be the most effective means of stopping the flow of drugs into California because of how sophisticated the gangs and drug traffickers have become.

"Certainly every measure would be helpful," he said. "But a wall itself would not necessarily stop the flow of drugs as it traverses our area of responsibility into Los Angeles. We're still talking about airports, we're talking about passenger vehicles that go through legal ports of entry. There's so many ways that traffickers bring it in."

For more of Downing's discussion on combating the drug problem, watch the video above.
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