Drug use is on the rise in western North Dakota.
A Ward County Narcotics Task Force official says the department's drug case load increases each year.
In fact, the task force is nearing the end of it's fiscal year and it's already investigated 100 cases more than last year's total.
Kelli Volk focuses in on the exchange of illegal drugs happening right here in our area.
(Capt. John Klug, Minot Police Department)"It's supply and demand. It's like any other business.
Except it's illegal and becoming more prevalent in the Minot area.
A Minot law enforcement official says the number of drug cases has risen in Minot--keeping police and the drug task force on guard in the area.
(Capt. John Klug, Minot Police Department)"Overtime, Marijuana has always been on the surface, so it's hard to say that there's necessarily more, now. The cases have increased, the number of cases that the task force is working, most of those lead to marijuana and meth amphetamine arrests."
But what seems to stand out more than the drug case load increase itself, is the way drugs have made their way into the state.
Klug says it starts with a connections that extend beyond state lines.
(Capt. John Klug, Minot Police Department)"I think it's fair to say that a lot of people that are dealing drugs in the area probably have an out of state connection because there's not a source in North Dakota for growing marijuana, for making meth. The quantities that we're seeing are above the scale that we've seen in our area in the past."
Klug says drugs that used to be sold in grams and ounces are now at times gauged by ounces and pounds-a trend that suggests a larger business is brewing outside of North Dakota.
(Capt. John Klug, Minot Police Department)"When you're looking at those types of drugs and that quantity coming in, it's definitely a bigger scale operation than what's going on right here."
Klug says he doesn't know of a systematic route for bring the drugs into the state; however, historically any normal mode of transportation has aided in moving drugs across state lines.
(Capt. John Klug, Minot Police Department)"As long as there's a demand for it, they're going to bring the supply in. The bigger the demand, the larger the quantities, that they're going to supply."
Law enforcement have stepped up to the challenge.
Klug says most seizures start with simple investigative work by the police department and task force.
(Capt. John Klug, Minot Police Department)"It's the police officer doing good police work and building bigger cases out of smaller issues or smaller contacts that they have with the public. No, we don't think everybody's a drug dealer, but if something comes up that doesn't seem right, that's where they go with their investigation. On the flip side, we rely a lot on the public in telling us, 'hey something's not right with person, something's going on at this house. We refer them to the task force."
In Minot, Kelli Volk, KX News.
The increase in illegal drug use is not going unnoticed by the medical field.
A Trinity Health addiction counselor says he has noticed a sharp increase in drug use.
He says it's difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for why drug use has risen; however he said the trend is of high concern to medical professionals.
(Joe Schmalz, Trinity Health Addiction Counselor)"In the past, you'd see primarily alcohol use, marijuana use. Those would be those primary drugs of choice where as within the last few years I'd say, the last five years, meth amphetamine has risen, opiate pain medication has risen, and we're seeing greater populations in our treatment programs with those particular drug users."
Schmalz also says intravenous drug use is a growing concern.