HENDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Stories about drug abuse lead Americans to believe fentanyl opioids are king. However, methamphetamine is the most dangerous drug here in East Texas.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that is illegal and affects your central nervous systems, according to the National Institue of Drug Abuse.

“Meth is your prime problem in the county,” said Boatie Hillhouse, Henderson County Sheriff.

While home-brewed meth labs are large safety problem, most of the drugs come straight from the border, shipped by cartels to big cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin.

From there they spread to small cities and towns, including East Texas.

“We used to see a lot of meth labs and we don’t see them anymore,” said Hillhouse. “The cartels have taken over and lowered the price and we’re seeing a finished product.”

One example is an arrest Hillhouse made along with Tyler police, where 53-year-old Teresa Michelle Steppe of Chandler was found with possession of methamphetamine.

Steppe had half a pound of meth, which sells for $22,000 on the street.

Just a week earlier, Hillhouse arrested her for a quarter-pound of methamphetamine which she bonded out for and went right back to her old habits.

Hillhouse said in August alone they picked up almost $60,000 worth of meth off the streets, but that’s just a fraction of the supply.

While officials deal with heroin and fentanyl, they find that meth is rampant in East Texas.

Long-term use has multiple negative consequences including:

  • Addiction
  • Severe dental problems
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

The sheriff said meth has been an ongoing problem long before he got into law enforcement 20 years ago.

He says it’s important to shut down illegal drug dealers because where there are dealers, crime continues to escalate with buyers which could lead to firearm-related offenses.

“If you address this type of crime aggressively, then you can help reduce other crimes,” said Hillhouse.

As meth continues to find its way into Texas, law enforcement is up against an ongoing problem and evolving criminal techniques.