You may not see it, but it is there. In the past few years, drugs like Meth are making a comeback on the streets of central Nebraska. As part of our in depth report, '5 nights in the fight against drugs' tonight we take a closer look at drugs in the tri–cities and how law enforcement is battling back.
"It has always been big, especially in Hastings. It might seem like a small town but people are always running around looking for it," said former meth dealer Daniel Rodriguez.
At age 17, Daniel Rodriquez started selling Methamphetamine. It was expensive, it was wanted, it was easy money.
"When I was selling it - $50 for a half gram, $250 which 2.5 grams. By the time I was 20 years old it had gone up $350 an 8-ball," said Rodriguez.
The profits supported his addiction to Meth.
"I would be doing it every 20 minutes, 30 minutes - put in the pipe, get high, do my errands. Once I was done, get high again," said Rodriguez.
Eventually, the lifestyle caught up with him. Last year, he was arrested and convicted for possession with intent to deliver. Now at 21 years old, Rodriguez is in the State Penitentiary.
"A lot of regrets with what I have done. It took away my childhood, took me away from my family, from people I love and people that supported me," Rodriguez said.
But the Meth problem does not begin or end with Rodriguez.
Jeff Pelowski has devoted a large part of his life fighting it. Until earlier this month, he spent 8 years with the Tri–City Drug Taskforce.
Pelowski said until last year meth cases were in the decline.
"I believe a lot of that had to do with the cartel issues going on in Mexico, and also we had a refocus in the drug force to several large marijuana cases in which we put a lot of resources into," said Pelowski.
Now suppliers down south are getting brave again.
"The price that we are seeing in the street is still high but the methamphetamine is back on the street and is very available," said Pelowski. "Obviously, we are on the I–80 corridor from west coast to east coast so we are on the perfect corridor for drug traffickers to come through."
And it is not just meth. Recently, the drug task force is seeing a rise in Ecstasy.
"It was about a year ago that we started seeing that on the street," said Pelowski.
Originally known as the RAVE drug because of its popularity in clubs Ecstasy is a hallucinogenic stimulant now showing up in several area communities and schools.
"Ecstasy can be produced in any town, any city, any local it can be produced in your bathroom so for lack of a better term it is a home grown drug," said Pelowski. "You do not know what is being put into the drug."
Ecstasy and Meth are high on the task force's list working to get suppliers and dealers out of the streets and behind bars. The same bars, fence and walls that keep Daniel Rodriguez to dream of a second life...a straighter path.
"I am trying to be a good husband to my wife, I am trying to be a better son to my mom and I am doing well. Hopefully, they will let me out on parole. That way I can show that I can be right in a civilized world," said Rodriguez.
Daniel Rodriguez is eligible for parole in 2012. He said he is looking forward to seeing his wife and mom.