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DES MOINES (AP) -- A new kind of methamphetamine that has wreaked havoc in Hawaii has come to Iowa as domestic supplies of meth have dried up, state narcotics officials say.
The smokable, crystallized form of methamphetamine, known as ice, is being seen in increasing amounts in many states, from Arizona, the Dakotas, Texas and Florida, said Ken Carter, head of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement.
"I'm afraid the ice age has come," he said.
Many meth users are turning to ice after the federal and state government clamped down on homemade meth production, Carter said.
Last year, 5,900 adults and almost 300 youths in Iowa sought treatment for meth addiction. For the estimated thousands that still use, ice may replace the less-pure powdered meth that has been shipped into the state but also the anhydrous ammonia-based meth that is made in clandestine labs.
"Over half, if not 60 percent, of the cases we have right now are ice cases," said Sandy Stoltenow, a chemist and supervisor at the state crime laboratory in Des Moines. "Addicts are not using less. If they have the addiction, they will do anything to feed their habit, and that has created this new market."
The switch could bring new headaches to state officials.
Ice is more expensive to buy, resulting in an increase in thefts and burglaries, which police say are related to people looking to support their habit.
Local drug agencies across the state, which face cuts in federal spending, say more money is needed to fight interstate drug trafficking.
Carter said drug agents anticipated demand for imported meth -- about 80 percent of the meth sold in Iowa -- would grow this year because of the state's new law restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in many cold medicines used to make meth.
Congress is expected to further limit pseudoephedrine availability by passing legislation that mirrors the Iowa law.
Meanwhile, cuts proposed by President Bush could mean the loss of 135 officers in Iowa, many of them members of local drug task forces, and millions intended for enforcement and treatment.
Even if police are successful at restricting the flow of meth into Iowa, demand hasn't let up.
Last year, 14.6 percent of people in drug treatment listed meth addiction as their primary problem. Substance abuse professionals say that number is expected to be even higher this year.
Dr. Jeff Allyn, an addiction expert at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, said more meth users seeking help at the hospital are using ice.