Meth Comes to the Hood


“All the homeboys are using crystal,” an LA street-gang member from the Neighborhood Bloods, says. Tick-Tock* is an OG and has been gangbanging since he was a youth. He knows the ins and outs of the drug trade and was hustling when crack was at its peak and the Colombians were dumping kilos of yayo on Los Angeles’ streets. “Blood, Crip, it doesn’t matter. They are all going crazy on crystal. It’s the new big thing in LA. It's rapid.”

And with reports that methamphetamine is coming across the borders in record-breaking waves due to the cartel’s ability to manufacture it easier and cheaper (think Breaking Bad), our country’s cities are being inundated with a drug that is flooding each and every neighborhood, or segment, of our communities that it can gain a foothold in.

Crystal meth has been traditionally associated with white, male, blue-collar workers. From bikers to rednecks to prison gangs to country boys, meth labs have dominated rural areas. With the advent of the Internet in 1996, recipes to cook meth were posted and from there the epidemic started. Out in the boondocks, everybody and their brother became a small-time meth cook. As the drug spread, eventually the cartels got involved and things turned Breaking Bad-ish. But not everyone can be "Walter White"—among urban residents crystal meth was never big. In the 1980s, crack cocaine flourished and has long been a mainstay in the inner city but now things have changed. Crystal meth is moving into the inner cities and it is quickly becoming an epidemic to rival the crack era.

In the past, crystal meth was very rarely seen in the inner city. In fact, it is generally considered a "white" drug used by tweakers, ravers, and members of motorcycle gangs. Traditionally, it has been the domain of long-haul truckers and people in occupations that need to stay awake and alert for long hours. But just like crack in the 1980s, crystal meth now has the urban communities of LA in a chokehold.

“It’s the new trend. They call it G-Unit or Go Fast. It’s the cool thing to do. Everybody is smoking it or snorting it in LA. You go to the black communities and you’ll be surprised. It’s super abundant. It’s badass as a muthafucka. It’s super bad. It's fucking South Central LA up real bad right now. I got a lot of homeboys and homegirls that graduated from ecstasy to straight meth. A lot of them are using meth and they really tweaking off that shit right now. They using meth, period. They partying, everyday activities, sex, for all purposes. I had a homeboy that died off it. He was using it and drinking and doing PCP and he fucked his heart up.“

California is ground zero for meth production and prison gangs like the Mexican Mafia have moved in on the trade and solidified their contacts with Mexican drug cartels. Through connections made in prison, members of La Eme started using black dealers to move the drug into their neighborhoods and slowly but surely crystal has infested the ghettos of Los Angeles—bringing the plague of crystal meth into the inner city and urban community.

“This shit is rapid in LA. They snorting it. It's worse than crack.” Tick-Tock’s homie and fellow Blood member B-Right* says. “Because on crack you can smoke for a few years and bounce back but with crystal you smoke it and you are gone—no teeth, lose all your weight, it’s a bunch of zombies out here. They selling it for $3,200 a pound. Young dudes are getting rich off it. It’s the number one scene they are pushing. They stopped the bomb powder. We got our own weed, it's damn near legal out here. The only thing the Mexicans got to push is this and they pushing it hard.”

It’s a simple equation of drug economics with the demand for cocaine down and weed dispensaries popping up all over Los Angeles, the most profitable contraband item the Mexican drug cartels can capitalize off in America is crystal meth. What started as a cottage industry with small-time cooks who got recipes off the Internet has turned into big business for the cartels. They have effectively cut out the small-time meth cook whose product is watered down compared to what the cartels are producing.

“The Mexicans are making super meth, it's like that Breaking Bad stuff. That shit is pure, ain’t no cooks in the hood, and if there were, the Mexicans would put them out of business,” B-Right says. “I was selling it, getting it from the Mexicans, but I had to stop and go to the weed. I got my own dispensary now. The meth is destroying the black community. Back in the early 2000s, you didn’t see crystal in the black community. Now, besides weed, it’s the number one drug. Dudes are taking it out of town. Cali dudes going to Pennsylvania or wherever and making a killing with the crystal. They selling Molly pills at the clubs and down in the hood for $30-40 and they mixing the crystal in and getting muthafuckas hooked. It’s the big thing out here. You can get it everywhere.”

With the drug available, plentiful and cheap, there’s no wonder it’s making inroads into the urban communities. “Being that we are right by Mexico, we [are] flooded with it. And being that marijuana is legal here, in a sense, it's shut the weed game down. There is no hustle in it and being that cocaine prices have went through the roof, the new hustle is crystal meth. Everyone is fucking with it and everyone is using it,” Tick- Tock says.

“The dynamic's changed in LA big time. The whole dynamic's changed. A lot of people using it but it's not spoke on. My boy right here, B-Right, made a lot of money off that shit and went on and got his legalized weed dispensary card and documents so that he can sell weed and he went legit.”

And surprisingly enough there has been little to no news coverage on this growing epidemic. Just like crack in the 1980s, it might take several years before the media and authorities catch on. “The media is not reporting on it. It's an epidemic in LA. That shit is fucking the blacks up down there,” Tick-Tock says. “It's destroying a lot of people I know. You don’t expect to see blacks using it like that but the blacks is using it in LA and there’s a lot of blacks in LA. I got homies going to jail for dumb shit off that shit. They tweaking doing stupid shit, shit they never thought they’d do. That meth is killing them, dude. Trust me, it's killing them. The OGs are losing their respect for using it. The youngsters are losing their respect for using it. The females are losing their respect for using it. And you can tell. Six months on crystal and you look fucked up.”

Just like crack, crystal meth is destroying the LA black community. With the Mexican cartels flooding California, the drug is cheap and plentiful. “It fucks me up because what makes you so curious that you would want to use something that fucks you up like that. I tried it but I haven’t got high in four years. I quit cold turkey,” Tick Tock says. “I used to get high like a muthafucka but right now I’m scared. I’m just scared of drugs right now. That’s where I’m at.”

And if something isn’t done soon, we will have another major drug epidemic on our hands, if we don’t already. Public health officials, the local and state government, and law enforcement need to recognize the problem and tackle it head on before it gets any worse. Drug addiction is a scourge on our society and with the cartels pumping meth in like there’s no tomorrow, the crisis won’t be solved any time soon.

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