FARMINGTON — When the "Breaking Bad" series finale airs Sunday night, many local police officers -- especially those who investigate narcotics -- will be watching.
"I love that show. I can't wait for Sunday," said Neil Haws, the director of the Region II Narcotics Task Force in San Juan County. "I've been watching since day one."
"Breaking Bad" is an Albuquerque-based television show about a former high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who, after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, starts to cook and sell methamphetamine to help his family.
The show, which airs on AMC, has won 10 Emmys, and critics routinely regard it as one of the best dramas on TV.
Several local police officers and deputies said they are not turned off by the fact that the show's main character is a sometimes violent meth dealer. Rather, the officers say, they enjoy the show because it's a realistic portrayal of the world they work in.
"The extreme violence in the show, that's part of the real meth world because of the effects the drug has on people," said Farmington police Cpl. David Karst, the supervisor of the Gang Unit. "I find it entertaining because some of it is realistic."
Haws and Karst said "Breaking Bad" is also popular with the other officers in Region II and the Gang Unit. And on Monday, it's often part of the officers' conversations.
Karst said one of the main aspects of the meth world that "Breaking Bad" gets right is its portrayal of meth addicts. The paranoia and the willingness to do anything for a fix is accurate, he said.
Haws said the show also accurately portrays different types of dealers. Some don't touch drugs and are in it purely for the money, while there are also addicts who sell meth to feed their own addiction.
And, Haws, said, there's also a competitive market to find the best meth, which is a common theme throughout "Breaking Bad."
"Just like with any other product, the best quality gets the most attention," Karst said. "The market is so strong for clean meth that people don't cut it as much anymore."
Haws said New Mexico is unique compared to other states because law enforcement have a history of finding the purest meth in this state. Region II agents have found local meth that was more than 98 percent pure, he said. In "Breaking Bad," White is the only producer who can get his meth to touch 99 percent purity.
But where "Breaking Bad" falls short, the officers said, is that even in its darkest moments, the show only focuses on the glamorous side of the meth world.
"They don't go into detail about the lower-level dealers and the gang members," said San Juan County Sheriff's Office Capt. Brice Current.
Current is a past Region II agent with undercover experience, and, of course, a "Breaking Bad" fan.
"If you go into detail about that world, you see children being abused, raped, malnourished and not taken care of," he said. "You would see mothers and fathers introduce their children to meth so their kids do the drug so they'd have somebody to smoke and get high with."
Current has seen that kind of abuse first-hard. Once, when he was undercover, he met a contact who was going to take him to a hotel to buy meth. Current said his source showed up with a 1-year-old baby who he was going to take to the drug deal.
"He got in the car and curled the baby up, put it under a dash area and was yelling at the baby to quit crying," he said. "We kicked him out of the car and dealt with him later. But the problem is that's what's going on anywhere there is a meth problem. You see those kind of choices over and over."
White's success cooking large quantities of meth at a New Mexico lab is also unrealistic, Haws said.
In San Juan County, Region II agents have investigated small-time meth labs. But they've never seen a local cook produce more than a few grams of meth.
Haws said almost all meth in San Juan County was cooked in Mexico and illegally carried across the border.
In addition to law enforcement agents, criminals apparently also like "Breaking Bad."
Haws said that over the past few years, agents have confiscated blue-tinted meth -- a trademark of White's meth in the show. A meth supplier likely created the blue tint by adding food coloring to the drug as a marketing ploy because of the success of "Breaking Bad," Haws said.
Often, when police find the blue meth, they make a crack about Heisenberg -- White's alias -- and then go back to work.
As for Sunday's finale, the officers' real-world experience gives them some perspective on how the story will end.
If it's a Hollywood ending, Current said White will get his revenge before the end of the show.
If it's a real-world ending, Karst said there are only two possible outcomes for White.
"In the meth world, you either end up dead or in prison," he said.Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.