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San Diego's drug past

Meth, sherm, crack, heroin, ecstasy, glue, paint ... you name it

San Diego cop: "It’s come to the forefront through raves, through parties, the local hip-hop scene and stuff. They’re the hip crowd, dressed well, have jobs, want to have a good time." - Image by Steven Cerio
San Diego cop: "It’s come to the forefront through raves, through parties, the local hip-hop scene and stuff. They’re the hip crowd, dressed well, have jobs, want to have a good time."

Your Mind Might Think It's Flyin'

Stories from the Meth Capital

“Most of the time when I was doing meth, we were always eating fast food, because you don’t want to cook. Your kitchen’s always a mess, you know; everything is in shambles. You ever try to walk into a tweaker home? You can’t. You have to crawl over boxes and everything. They tear into their drawers, they tear into their boxes, everything is spread around on the floor. Take Karen; she had a nice house, but I’ll be damned if you could walk in.”

By Patrick Daugherty, Dec. 6, 1990 | Read full article

The cementeros. At all times, there is the glue. They are reduced to shambling zombies by it, their brain cells melting inside their skulls to give them escape.

Wanna Sniff, Hombre?

The violence has attracted attentions of the Tijuana police. The cops raid the hill sometimes and deliver beatings. Torture, Andres calls it. To avoid the cops — or anybody else — the boys have dug elaborate tunnels under the house. At the least hint of approaching feet, they dive into their rat-mazes, where they will hide, only their eyes peeking out from under the slab foundation. They sleep under there too, jammed in on top of each other in the cold.

By Luis Urrea, Oct. 3, 1991 | Read full article

We walked up Broadway and across Eighth to the El Cortez. In the shadows of the abandoned hotel was a place the bums called Heroin Row.

Pain Killers

We crossed Market and squatted beside a warehouse facing away from the Convention Center. I felt exposed. Nick undid his pants to show Edward the wound. Crack pipe in one hand, pants at his knees in the other. Cars driving by.

“Goddamn! Goddamn!” said Edward, looking at the gash in Nick’s leg. “Y-y-you gotta take care of that.”

“I know it!” replied Nick. “It’s hurting like a bitch right now. I can’t even think.”

By Jeff Sharlet, June 10, 1993 | Read full article

“About a year later my friends started using it casually. It wasn’t the rave thing. It was an intimate group of eight or ten long-time friends hanging out."

Love Is the Drug

For days and weeks following my damp and urgent experience of Ecstasy, I had strange dreams. Not nightmares, not life-changing dream, but strange ones, unlike any strange dreams I’ve had before. They were brief, violent epics. They involved death. They were about coastal storms that swept people out to sea, about brutal freeway mishaps. And they were strange because of the placid emotional remove from which I watched them pass through my mind.

By Abe Opincar, April 15, 1993 | Read full article

DEA seizure of meth. The meth habit spread to U.S. occupation soldiers in World War II. They most often landed and settled in San Diego.

Drug of Choice

Immediately after the war. the meth habit spread to U.S. occupation soldiers in Japan. They in turn brought it back to the States with them. And when they did return, they most often landed and settled in San Diego. Some of the fraternal groups they formed turned into the precursors of today's motorcycle gangs, such as the Hell's Angels. East County, Lakeside, Santee, and El Cajon have been the traditional centers for these groups and for their meth-production facilities.

By Bill Manson, May 20, 1999 | Read full article

"I came across some weed that was laced with PCP. It was, like, the worst experience of my life. Everything was running together, and I forgot where I lived."

Embalmed Angel

Teer says that he started smoking sherm when he was 16. "I used it a lot. I used a lot of drugs, but the older you get, the less fun it gets. Smoking a sherm is kind of like huffing paint times 20 for eight hours. I would smoke it at school. We'd sit in the back of the room, all shermed out. When I was locked up [in jail], I knew some guys that had it. The whole tank had it.”

By Robert Kumpel, May 30, 2002 | Read full article

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Unexpendable Rambo

The first and fourth foray
San Diego cop: "It’s come to the forefront through raves, through parties, the local hip-hop scene and stuff. They’re the hip crowd, dressed well, have jobs, want to have a good time." - Image by Steven Cerio
San Diego cop: "It’s come to the forefront through raves, through parties, the local hip-hop scene and stuff. They’re the hip crowd, dressed well, have jobs, want to have a good time."

Your Mind Might Think It's Flyin'

Stories from the Meth Capital

“Most of the time when I was doing meth, we were always eating fast food, because you don’t want to cook. Your kitchen’s always a mess, you know; everything is in shambles. You ever try to walk into a tweaker home? You can’t. You have to crawl over boxes and everything. They tear into their drawers, they tear into their boxes, everything is spread around on the floor. Take Karen; she had a nice house, but I’ll be damned if you could walk in.”

By Patrick Daugherty, Dec. 6, 1990 | Read full article

The cementeros. At all times, there is the glue. They are reduced to shambling zombies by it, their brain cells melting inside their skulls to give them escape.

Wanna Sniff, Hombre?

The violence has attracted attentions of the Tijuana police. The cops raid the hill sometimes and deliver beatings. Torture, Andres calls it. To avoid the cops — or anybody else — the boys have dug elaborate tunnels under the house. At the least hint of approaching feet, they dive into their rat-mazes, where they will hide, only their eyes peeking out from under the slab foundation. They sleep under there too, jammed in on top of each other in the cold.

By Luis Urrea, Oct. 3, 1991 | Read full article

We walked up Broadway and across Eighth to the El Cortez. In the shadows of the abandoned hotel was a place the bums called Heroin Row.

Pain Killers

We crossed Market and squatted beside a warehouse facing away from the Convention Center. I felt exposed. Nick undid his pants to show Edward the wound. Crack pipe in one hand, pants at his knees in the other. Cars driving by.

“Goddamn! Goddamn!” said Edward, looking at the gash in Nick’s leg. “Y-y-you gotta take care of that.”

“I know it!” replied Nick. “It’s hurting like a bitch right now. I can’t even think.”

By Jeff Sharlet, June 10, 1993 | Read full article

“About a year later my friends started using it casually. It wasn’t the rave thing. It was an intimate group of eight or ten long-time friends hanging out."

Love Is the Drug

For days and weeks following my damp and urgent experience of Ecstasy, I had strange dreams. Not nightmares, not life-changing dream, but strange ones, unlike any strange dreams I’ve had before. They were brief, violent epics. They involved death. They were about coastal storms that swept people out to sea, about brutal freeway mishaps. And they were strange because of the placid emotional remove from which I watched them pass through my mind.

By Abe Opincar, April 15, 1993 | Read full article

DEA seizure of meth. The meth habit spread to U.S. occupation soldiers in World War II. They most often landed and settled in San Diego.

Drug of Choice

Immediately after the war. the meth habit spread to U.S. occupation soldiers in Japan. They in turn brought it back to the States with them. And when they did return, they most often landed and settled in San Diego. Some of the fraternal groups they formed turned into the precursors of today's motorcycle gangs, such as the Hell's Angels. East County, Lakeside, Santee, and El Cajon have been the traditional centers for these groups and for their meth-production facilities.

By Bill Manson, May 20, 1999 | Read full article

"I came across some weed that was laced with PCP. It was, like, the worst experience of my life. Everything was running together, and I forgot where I lived."

Embalmed Angel

Teer says that he started smoking sherm when he was 16. "I used it a lot. I used a lot of drugs, but the older you get, the less fun it gets. Smoking a sherm is kind of like huffing paint times 20 for eight hours. I would smoke it at school. We'd sit in the back of the room, all shermed out. When I was locked up [in jail], I knew some guys that had it. The whole tank had it.”

By Robert Kumpel, May 30, 2002 | Read full article

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