Meth Storm

Operation Ice Storm is the name given to the Drug Enforcement Agency-led meth crackdown that swept through Van Buren County in central Arkansas over the last couple of years. But the real devastation in the new HBO documentary Meth Storm isn’t found in the wake of law enforcement’s efforts to arrest all the drug dealers; it’s in the utterly hopeless conditions of the depressed rural community that has been all but destroyed by ice, the potent form of the highly addictive drug that Mexican cartels have flooded the area with. The documentary follows two main characters: Johnny Sowell is one of the lead DEA agents, a soft-spoken local guy who grew up with many of the people he ends up arresting and whose lives he sees overtaken by their addiction. And Veronica Converse is the meth-addled matriarch of a broken family with two grown strung-out, drug-dealing sons who have been in and out of jail their whole lives. Filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud do a remarkable job of both unflinchingly reporting on the tragedy and creating an empathetic portrait of humans barely surviving in the most hopeless of circumstances.