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Friday, July 11, 2014

Officials cracking down on drug use in county

Friday, August 8, 2008

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With two major drug sweeps a little more than two years apart by law enforcement officers from county, state and federal agencies, many local residents are scratching their heads in curiosity about how the drug culture has invaded Clay County.

"Illegal drug activity is everywhere across the country and throughout the state," Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison told The Brazil Times. "It's everywhere, in large metropolitan cities and small towns like in Clay County."

In 2006, a massive raid led to 27 suspects being arrested for drug-related allegations. The ongoing investigation from that drug sweep, along with tips provided by the public, led to an additional 40 warrants issued this week and to more than 30 arrests by law enforcement officers.

"These are the people the citizens of our community have complained about, the ones they wanted out of their communities," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said.

No high-profile arrests were made in the recent drug sweep that focused mainly on getting local dealers off the streets, but officials explained that doesn't mean these suspects aren't as equally important as the big-time dealers/suppliers.

"These individuals are the people in the drug community who are most likely to introduce kids to drugs and they don't care who has $25 to spend on drugs," Heaton said. "We are protecting children by removing them from the streets."

However, local law enforcement agencies have been involved in the investigations of, arrests of and subsequent federal indictments of 33 high-profile drug dealers from Clay County.

"There were several people from Clay County, including Steve Hood, Shaun Clarke, Greg Vanes, Ryan Batchelor and several others responsible for bringing pounds of meth into Clay County who were indicted and convicted on federal charges," CCSD former drug detective and current Chief Deputy Rob Gambill said. "Because of the previous arrests of the big fish in 2006, and the many more drug arrests that we've made up to this week when we brought in the minnows, we know that we have created such a hostile environment that it has forced some of the big drug suppliers and dealers to move out of our community."

"They know it's not safe here for them. In Clay County, we're going after both the big fish and the minnows," Heaton added. "We have to arrest the minnows, because, if left alone, they grow up to be big fish."

According to officials, as quickly as they catch one person involved in the drug culture, another eagerly takes their place.

"But, when we catch one person, it usually leads to another," Harrison said. "Fighting to keep drugs out of our community is a big job. We only have a few local law enforcement officers available out there fighting against drug dealers in a county of more than 24,000 people. So we understand the frustration people have about drugs in their communities."

Creating the framework of a drug case with the potential of a conviction is a lengthy, time-consuming process. Officials agree it is best to catch an individual in the act, like during a traffic stop, but it's not always that easy.

"Just because someone says John Doe is a drug dealer, it doesn't mean law enforcement can kick down his door and arrest him," Gambill said. "It takes extensive man-hours to investigate each drug case."

Information provided by disgruntled residents tired of dealing with the nightmare of having their neighborhoods infested with crime is crucial to law enforcement.

"There is an old saying about strength in numbers, and it's true. We encourage people to continue to call with information about suspicious activity in their neighborhoods," Harrison said. "The number of drug arrests would definitely drop without the public input. The only way to beat back drugs in our community, and keep them out, is for people to report suspicious activity to law enforcement."

If the tips keep coming and officers are able to secure enough evidence for an arrest warrant during the ongoing investigation, officials agree there will be more arrests.

"If we have this many cases a year or a month from now, we will do this again," Heaton said. "If you bury your head and think it's not happening, you're wrong. By no means are we done investigating drugs in this community. This is an ongoing investigation."


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Police are always focusing on the effect, and not the cause.

To arrest 40 plus people looks good on paper-but who did they arrest?

Those arrested were smalltime users and dealers. You never get the middle or top people. The war on drugs has been a multi-billion dollar fiasco-Prohibition didn't work, so why do we think the war on drugs will work?

An economics professor I had repeatedly said "as long as there is a demand, someone will be there to supply it."

If there were no demand for drugs, you couldn't give them away.

Where we need to focus is why people demand (need) drugs).

To fill our prisons and jails up with small time users and small time sellers will never solve the problem.

-- Posted by fbard on Sat, Aug 9, 2008, at 9:56 AM

I agree well said Fbard

-- Posted by dovelw on Sat, Aug 9, 2008, at 11:10 AM

fbard-

Nearly every single person who is in a position to make policy, create laws, design treatment, and formulate plans to combat the problems of society, including drug abuse, is a college graduate. It seems a little hypocritical for a college professor to throw stones at law enforcement for not handling the drug problem in an acceptable way when all of the learned scholars in the world of academia haven't been able to come up with any workable solution that has ever worked better.

Law Enforcement may not be able to do away with the desire that people have for drugs (not their job), but they can make neighborhoods safer, at least for a time, by ridding them of the people who are causing the problem. If you live next to a "smalltime" user or dealer, you probably aren't too concerned with the social and economic reasons that they became addicted, you just know that you want that influence away from your children. Also, an economics professor should have done his homework before he began making false statements, maybe that is one of the reasons our economy is in such trouble. Read some of the other stories in the Brazil Times about the large scale dealers that have been taken down recently. Dealers from South American drug cartels have been arrested along with some of our local large scale dealers and have been sent to federal prison, where some will stay for nearly 30 years.

The drug problem is a community problem, not just a law enforcement problem. It's too bad that most of time the only people who try to do anything about the problem are those in law enforcement. College Professors, Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, and everybody else concerned needs to step up and try to make a difference. It's easy cast stones from an ivory tower positioned in the middle of a college campus, it's a little harder to find workable solutions here in the real world.

-- Posted by Unsolicited opinion on Sat, Aug 9, 2008, at 1:43 PM

No matter how you look at it, many people were taken off the streets who don't need to be there. I commend the police department. Now how about concentrating on all the welfare fraud that is going on in Brazil. There are families and families within families that are on the welfare merry-go-round, people who can work but refuse to, and many of these people are drug users too.

It's sickening to see these lazy people with their children, collecting money when they shouldn't be, and using and distributing drugs. These people should also be locked up. Oh yes, I have no problem working and having money taken out of my paycheck to help those in need, but it's the people who are tricking the system and using drugs that I'm sick of paying for. I say lock up the drug dealers and the welfare dopers.

-- Posted by jokerswild on Sat, Aug 9, 2008, at 5:49 PM

The police are doing a great job. The reason it looks like there is such a drug problem is because the police are doing an A+++ job. The police are not the ones that raise the children. Some are good role models in the community and try to have an influence on youth, however, that's not the police job. The police job is to arrest. When you receive so many calls and make so many arrests, you don't have time for prevention.

-- Posted by Criminology08 on Sat, Aug 9, 2008, at 8:46 PM

Do they ever get the chance to fill the cells up? And if the do, then why are there so many offenders just getting a slap on the wrist, a fine, and probation. Then sent out the door on there merry little way to do it all over again.

-- Posted by narrowmind on Sat, Aug 9, 2008, at 10:31 PM

narrowmind-To answer part of your question, the Justice Center was nearly filled to capacity after the suspects who were arrested on 8/5 were thrown in with all of the people who were already incarcerated. As far as the punishment that the offenders are receiving, you need to let your elected officials (Prosecutors and Judges) know how you feel about the sentences they are handing down, the Sheriff's Dept. and City Police have nothing to do with that.

-- Posted by Unsolicited opinion on Sun, Aug 10, 2008, at 1:06 AM

fbard- I misread your post the first time through and thought you were claiming to be a professor, sorry about that--- the rest of my initial reply seems about right.

-- Posted by Unsolicited opinion on Sun, Aug 10, 2008, at 2:49 AM

IT IS MY BELIEF THAT NO MATTER HOW THE POLICE HANDLE A SITUATION THERE WILL ALWAYS BE DEBATE. THE DEBATES ALWAY RIDE BETWEEN OPINIONS ON GOOD, OR NOT ENOUGH. THE ONE THING THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT, LAW ENFORCEMENT AT ANY LEVAL HAVE THIER HANDS TIED BY THE JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS. IF THE PROSECUTORS DON'T FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THE CASES, NOTHING WILL BE DONE.PERIOD. IT IS ALSO VERY APPARENT THAT IF THE STATE POLICE, DEA, FBI, OR ANY OTHER LARGE SCALE ORGANIZATION DOES NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED IN THESE MASSIVE RAIDS, THE LOCAL PROSECUTION TEAM HOLDS BACK. I DON'T KNOW IF IT IS MONEY OR MANPOWER, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE IT IS STEPPING OUT ON A LIMB THAT SCARES THEM, BECAUSE THEN IT IS JUST THEM OUT THERE IF IT DOES NOT GO THEIR WAY. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT IS DOING WHAT THEY CAN, WITH THE HAND THEY ARE DEALT.

-- Posted by SIKOFIT on Sun, Aug 10, 2008, at 3:34 AM

unsolicited opinion ~ once again I agree with you one hundred percent ~ some of the other comments make me wonder if these folks are concerned about our community or just if their face will be the next one on the front page with arrest charges ~ it's time our community gets the guts to positively support our police agencies & let them do their jobs to clean up our community ~ it's time for the entire Clay community to offer assistance instead of useless criticism & cynical remarks ~ if you can do the job these guys do so much better join their department & show us !

To CCSD, BPD & ISP ~ you're doing a great job as always ~ keep up the good work to make our community a safe place to live !

-- Posted by karebabe on Sun, Aug 10, 2008, at 8:47 AM

hi

-- Posted by cowgril on Sun, Aug 10, 2008, at 8:54 AM

Let them laugh! I remember a day when Greg Vanes, Shaun Clark and the Burk brothers laughed too! Look where they are now! Great job Rob Gambill and Drug Task Force, CCSD, BPD and ISP! Now let's see if the prosecuter and judges do anything with them this time. There are too many repeat drug offenders because the punishment is too lenient.

-- Posted by just thinking on Mon, Aug 11, 2008, at 9:49 AM

To all the people with the negative opinions on the "war on drugs", what in the world are you thinking. I'm just thankful that there are only a few of you. Most people think!

-- Posted by LindaGleason on Sat, Aug 16, 2008, at 11:17 AM


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