law & order

On the trail of the Meth Capital

Meth is known by many names — speed, ice, crank, crys­tal, glass — and, by many accounts, it con­tin­ues to spread through­out the US. When­ev­er a con­ver­sa­tion turns to the sub­ject of meth, some­one inevitably iden­ti­fies some Amer­i­can city as Our Meth Cap­i­tal. Oth­ers in the con­ver­sa­tion usu­al­ly dis­agree — "Des Moines? I thought Fres­no was the meth cap­i­tal," "No, it's Gainesville, Flori­da," "I thought it was some­where out­side Phoenix," and so on. Judg­ing from the cities that are thrown around in these con­ver­sa­tions, the meth cap­i­tal should be (a) poor, (b) white, © some­what small, but not unheard of, and (d) known for heavy indus­try, agri­cul­ture, or tourism. Of course, the Inter­net has some­thing to say about the loca­tion of our meth cap­i­tal. Most seem to agree that it's in Cal­i­for­nia, prob­a­bly some­where in the Cen­tral Val­ley now that the tweak­ers have been run out of River­side and San Diego coun­ties. Nom­i­na­tions for our nation's meth cap­i­tal include:

  • The LA Week­ly, California's Cen­tral Val­ley: "What Colom­bia is to cocaine, the Cen­tral Val­ley of Cal­i­for­nia is to meth labs."
  • Sier­ra Mag­a­zine, Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona, Mis­souri: "Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona, and Mis­souri vie for the dubi­ous hon­or of meth cap­i­tal of Amer­i­ca … in terms of sheer vol­ume, Cal­i­for­nia has always been and remains Numero Uno."
  • Austin Amer­i­can-States­man, Not Texas: "Should the bill not pass, Estes warned, 'we can count on Texas becom­ing the meth cap­i­tal of the Unit­ed States.'"
  • Mis­souri Sen­a­tor Kit Bond: Mis­souri: "Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Mis­souri is the metham­phet­a­mine cap­i­tal of the Unit­ed States."
  • The South­ern Illi­nois Dai­ly Egypt­ian, Mis­souri: "The con­cept is com­ing over from Mis­souri and is spread­ing across the area."
  • Slate, Every­one needs to chill: "Sub­mit the search terms "metham­phet­a­mine cap­i­tal of the world" or "meth cap­i­tal of the world" into Nex­is, and it spits back almost 70 cita­tions between 1983 and 2005, with many writ­ers and sources dis­put­ing the capital's pre­cise GPS coordinates."