The Bright Side of Montana Meth (not really)

by William Skink

Over at Intelligent Discontent, Don Pogreba bemoans the continued efforts of the Montana Meth Project. Besides coining my new favorite term—propagandistic vandalism—Don draws attention to the diminishing donations and big pay check for the executive director. Also, there’s the little matter of it not working.

Ironically we learn about the failure of the Montana Meth Project from the Billings Gazette reporting on a panel on exploding meth use in Eastern Montana sponsored by…the Montana Meth Project. From the link:

Chances are high that the local crimes you read about in the newspaper — robbery, assault, theft — have a common root in meth use.

That’s because the drug has evolved and is making a resurgence in Billings, local experts said Monday at a forum on methamphetamine held at the Billings Public Library.

“It’s making a huge, huge comeback,” said Rod Ostermiller, chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service.

The event, sponsored by the Montana Meth Project and Billings Gazette Communications, featured criminal justice and drug treatment officials as well as first lady Lisa Bullock and a spokesperson from the Montana Petroleum Association.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito called meth the top public safety threat in Billings for the way it fuels other, sometimes violent crime, reiterating comments made last month in a Gazette story on the drug.

The obscene reality is meth’s resurgence may ultimately be good for the Montana Meth Project. Sponsoring a panel that gets media coverage could help reverse that downward donor trend Don highlighted. NOT EVEN ONCE could get a whole new surge of money. Notice the presence of Lisa Bullock, and wonder how far away the ear of the Governor may be to directing public money to this effort.

Remember, back in 2006, the Indy reported it like this:

Montana officials at every level have cozied up to the project and are now working to secure public funding to sustain it, while the state’s congressional delegation is looking for ways to export it beyond Montana’s borders through federal grants. Arizona and Utah are hastily trying to import the ads, encouraged by their dramatic profile and the unanimous support they’ve received from politicians and news coverage alike. The Montana Meth Project has successfully developed a public image of itself as not only a bighearted offering from a deep-pocketed man, but also as a revolutionary and, more important, successful attempt to rein in Montana’s meth problem.

One of the reported differences with this latest surge in Meth use is the provenance of the crank is out of state, and out of country. Just today there was news of an alleged leader in a California-to-Montana Meth ring sentenced. I say alleged because there’s no chance Joshua Alberto Rodriguez is anything other than a middleman. Even US Attorney Mike Cotter admitted this dealer’s replaceability:

U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said the investigation dismantled “an acute and violent threat” to Great Falls and surrounding areas, but he acknowledged in a news conference that other dealers have stepped in since the bust. He declined to elaborate.

The drugs appear to have been manufactured in Mexico and were sold uncut in Montana, said Joseph Kirkland of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The other defendants include residents of California and Montana who range in age from 25 to 46. All 20 have been ordered to pay a $2.4 million monetary judgment.

Investigators used search warrants, a wiretap, physical surveillance and financial documents to learn the details of the operation. They also tracked Rodriguez’s trips to Montana through the GPS on his phone.

Let’s look on the bright side. Drug problems could be good for justifying increases in Law Enforcement budgets. The Meth problem could be good for that six-figure salaried director of the Montana Meth Project. And drug sales are good for Big Banks, who launder the loot and get wrist slaps from the now Attorney General, Loretta Lynch:

Some Republican Senators are having a field day, and rightly so, over the fact that Obama’s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, looks to have allowed bank giant HSBC, and more important, its executives and officers, off vastly too easy in a massive money-laundering and tax evasion scheme.

The background is that Lynch, as attorney for the Eastern District of New York, led the investigation of HSBC’s money laundering for drug dealers and other unsavory types that led to a $1.9 billion settlement in 2012. That deal was pilloried by both the right and left as being too lenient given the scale of HSBC’s misdeeds.

Crap, there I go again, being all negative and critical. Good party loyalists aren’t supposed to look beyond the tokenism of her appointment to her servitude to power.

I blame my reptile dysfunction. From my warped perspective, it’s almost like there’s political protection for that lucrative intersection between big banks and drug cartels.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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15 Responses to The Bright Side of Montana Meth (not really)

  1. Big Swede says:

    What we really need is more glorification of the trade.

  2. steve kelly says:

    “The War on Drugs has been a failure from the position of its stated aims. But is it a failure? Not from the point of view of the police apparatus, not from the perspective of the big drug dealers who are in cahoots with government agencies around the world, nor from those who profit from the increasingly privatized jail system, nor those who supply jails, and so on.” -Gabor Mate

    The California-Billings “crank” connection extends back into the 196o’s, at least.

    “Amphetamine was first made in 1887 in Germany and methamphetamine, more potent and easy to make, was developed in Japan in 1919.”

    • JC says:

      Mate is spot on. He refers to the “war on drugs” not so much as a war on drugs — which is kind of like the war on terror or poverty — as a war on drug users… or terrorists (whoever we may label as such), or the poor.

      If Mate were American, he’d be run out of the medical profession in a heart beat. He’s the one who did the great podcast “Capitalism makes us crazy.” If we accept that addiction is partially a result of the social condition of our culture, then we become morally responsible to change those conditions that help to create addiction, to help alleviate the pain caused by it, and to treat those afflicted by “it” (it = the social condition).

    • Steve W says:

      Mate is a light in the darkness.

      Meth only exists because a handful of pharma factories produce all the ephedrine and pseudo ephedrine used in all the cold and nasal remedies as well as underground by the meth industry large and small around the world.

      If those factories were shut down it would only be a few month before most of the world would be meth free. And a few years before the whole world would be completely meth free as stocks of ephedrine and pseudo ephedrine dried up.

      The reason this hasn’t happened is because there’s too much money in ephedrine and pseudo ephedrine, both legal and diverted to the meth trade.

      Capitalism and runny noses keep meth around.

      • Big Swede says:

        Capitalism, runny noses and a free market.

        Fixed it for you.

        • You found a free market? Please, do share! Where? Where? Be the first to post it here and wind an all expense paid trip to a sweatshop!

        • Big Swede says:

          Black markets are free markets.

        • Steve W says:

          I bet you “fixed” it Swede. Needles are the capitalist way.

          By the way, black markets are not free markets. That’s why they call them “black” not “free.”

          See how that works?

        • Sweatshops are free markets. Slavery is the ultimate expression of free markets.

          People, to the degree they are able, hide from free markets, as they are so destructive. The weaker an individual. The more he is subject to the market.

      • Big Swede says:

        Black markets operate without governmental intrusion until someone kicks your door in.

        • JC says:

          What about when the government is running the black market? Like facilitating drug sales to fund terrorists? Or because the government is doing it, it isn’t a “black” market?

        • “The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.” (Dwayne Andreas, former CEO, Archer Daniels Midlands. Commodity trading corporation.)

        • Big Swede says:

          Laws are for the little people JC.

          So why do we need more lawmakers/lawbreakers?

        • JC says:

          Hey, you won’t get any argument from me that there are far too many laws governing individual behavior. The more laws there are, the more that people will break them, and the happier the prison industry becomes.

          Being a lawmaker always has been more about enriching oneself than improving the lot of others. There are few lawmakers who are in it as an altruistic endeavor.

          Back to the Montana Meth Project. It was more a political advertising and name recognition campaign for Tom Seibel (and a potential bid for the Senate) than an altruistic attempt to do something serious and meaningful about Meth and/or addiction.

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