(KMOV) -- Franklin County authorities say their successes in reducing meth labs in the area have created a vacuum for Mexican drug cartels to fill the local void.
Drug cartels in Mexico have increasingly flooded the area with their imported meth, smuggled into the country by illegal aliens.
Sergeant Jason Grellner said it is being brought across the southwest border in quantities not seen here in a long time in the United States.
Sgt. Grellner is the head of Franklin County’s Drug Task Force. He said the meth from Mexico is smuggled to Kansas City then shipped to the St. Louis area. The problem’s partially due to the success of busting local labs and putting cold medicine behind the counter.
"Because of that local meth labs are decreasing and the amount of meth they can make is decreasing. This left an opening for large Mexican cartels to fill and that's what they're doing,” said Sgt. Grellner.
Tackling the influx of new meth is difficult because investigator can’t turn their backs on local labs that risk explosions and both are very labor intensive.
"So we're caught in this fight between these immediate emergent situations with emergent situations with meth labs that are dangerous to the community and these long term investigations that are dangerous to the narcotics officers but are the way that these investigations need to be worked,” said Sgt. Grellner.
The imported meth is more expensive and could lead to more drug-related crimes such as burglaries by addicts trying to get money to feed their habit.
Police say the more effective way to combat the problem is to reduce the demand by getting users into treatment but narcotic detectives say only a few get the treatment they need.