WASHINGTON — Federal officials outlined a strategy Thursday to reduce methamphetamine use by 15 percent and domestic meth labs by 25 percent by the end of 2008 through cooperation with other countries and increased domestic enforcement.
Several federal agencies joined to release the 53-page 2006 Synthetic Drug Control Strategy, which lists the Bush administration's goals and proposals to stem the flow of meth and the chemicals used to make the drug.
John Walters, White House drug policy director, said the number of domestic meth labs has decreased but that production has shifted to foreign countries, especially Mexico.
"We have the tools and knowledge to be able to make the difference," Walters said. "We are making progress against these efforts. This is about follow-through."
Ambassador Eduardo Ibarrola, the deputy chief of missions at the Mexican Embassy, joined the press conference at the Justice Department to pledge his country's cooperation with the United States in combating meth.
"Our countries alone cannot confront the great challenge of drug trafficking or the ability of organized crime to generate violence and to foment corruption," he said. "That is why international cooperation is imperative."
The strategy calls for the U.S. to improve information gathering and intelligence from other countries about shipments of chemicals that can be used to make meth. The administration has a goal of reaching agreements with Germany, China and India by the end of the year on greater sharing of information about such transactions.
It also calls for strengthening law enforcement and border control activities, particularly with Mexico. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexican law enforcement officials will establish specialized meth enforcement teams on their respective sides of the border.
The plans also include implementing the Combat Meth Act, which President Bush signed into law in March. That law sets a national standard for restricting the retail sale of chemicals that can be used to make meth and increased penalties for meth cooks and traffickers.
The report said the federal government will continue cooperating with state, local and tribal governments on the meth problem, including grants for treatment and prevention programs, collection and sharing of data and funding for regional summits on meth.
Walters said additional federal money will be provided for school districts that choose to use random drug testing as part of their prevention efforts.
Many of the proposals already had been announced individually, but the report drew them into an overall plan.
State laws controlling retail access to over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine have reduced meth's domestic production, and a larger proportion of the drug now comes across the border as a final product, the officials said.
About 20 percent of meth used in the U.S. comes from domestic labs and roughly 80 percent is produced by foreign-based drug trafficking syndicates, officials said.
Current and previous administrations have avoided issuing strategies focused on a single drug or category of drugs such as synthetics, which includes meth and prescription drug abuse, the report said.
But meth and prescription drugs warrant a targeted response, partly because they or their ingredients are designed for legal uses and also because of the extreme health and environmental problems from making meth and the "indisputably destructive nature" of meth use, the report states.
The goal of 15 percent reduction in both meth use and prescription drug abuse translates in real numbers to 87,000 fewer meth users and 901,000 fewer prescription drug abusers, the report states.