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Methamphetamine drug arrests in South Dakota reach 10-year high

March 26, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The number of drug arrests in South Dakota reached a 10-year high.

The number of drug arrests last year was more than 7,600, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to the state attorney general office’s annual Crime in South Dakota report, released Monday. The report also said that homicides, sexual assaults and robbery arrests declined.

Drug arrests in the state have been increasing since methamphetamine grew in popularity in South Dakota. In recent years, the amount of meth seized in rural counties has doubled.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said fighting drugs is a “three-legged stool” comprised of prevention, treatment and enforcement. He said while the enforcement aspect has been successful, police falter with prevention, which leads to more arrests.

“I would advocate for more resources on the front-end,” Thom said. “I think what’s important to note with methamphetamine is the level of violence. People who are using methamphetamine are prone to violence and that could be driving other numbers.”

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed a Senate bill appropriating more than $600,000 to expand the state’s meth treatment services.

“We need treatment for people who are struggling with this and we need families and friends to get involved when they recognize a problem,” Minnehaha County Deputy Sheriff Michelle Boyd said.

The bulk of the meth-related arrests are still in the state’s most populated areas, which are Boyd and Thom’s counties. Boyd said the increase isn’t surprising because the department has been discussing the spike in drug-related crimes for years.