The meth seized in this bust was in a pure form called "ice." In this form, the meth is far too potent and dangerous to use, so dealers typically use a process called "cutting" or "stepping on it," as Mercer said law enforcement calls it. This is a process of adding pollutants to the meth, such as baking soda or B-12, that not only makes the drug less potent – so as to not kill a user in one dose – but also bulks it up, so that dealers can sell more of it.
"By the time you do all that, that little six pounds of dope we got could be worth upwards of $200,000," Mercer said.
Mercer explained that the more times a particular amount of meth changes hands, the more expensive it gets. He compared the underground industry to the car business.
"A car's manufactured, it goes to a dealer, then it goes to the client and everybody's going to make a little money off of it," he said. "That's the thing is once you get down to the street level, they're not really making that much money, but they're supplying themselves, supplying their habit and making some money. It's like a wholesale deal. Whenever you buy a bunch of that stuff from the source, it's not as expensive as it is once you cut it, put it in the bag, go out on the street and sell it to somebody."
Mercer added it is very hard to pull off a large-scale bust like this because these rackets tend to operate as anonymously as possible. Mercer said suppliers usually change their phone numbers every 30 days and deal with people exclusively on a first name or nickname basis. Of course, they also deal exclusively in cash.