Routt County Sheriff’s Office to join drug task force
Sheriff confirms deputy will be provided to ACET
September 15, 2011
The Routt County Sheriff's Office again will be a contributing agency to the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force.
Sheriff Garrett Wiggins confirmed that his office will provide a deputy to the task force as soon as that person completes narcotics training that began earlier this week.
The Sheriff's Office withdrew its support from ACET, formerly known as GRAMNET, in 2007 under then-Sheriff Gary Wall.
At the time, Wall said he withdrew the Sheriff's Office participation because he didn't think the task force produced results justifying the $115,000 contribution. He also accused the task force of violating people's civil liberties.
Wiggins served as ACET commander from 2007 until he was elected sheriff in November 2010.
He said Routt County's decision to withdraw from the task force stemmed from a riff between himself and Wall, who Wiggins defeated at the polls to become sheriff.
"This is certainly a policy change in regards to how he used to run things," Wiggins said.
ACET conducts drug investigations in Moffat and Routt counties. The task force includes one officer each from the Craig and Steamboat Springs police departments and a deputy from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office.
Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta provided an update on ACET's actions during a Craig City Council meeting this week. He said ACET has arrested 15 people suspected of narcotics violations this year, resulting in the seizure of more than $40,000 in illegal drugs.
ACET Commander Marvin Cameron, who was detailed to the task force from the Craig Police Department, compiled the report that Vanatta delivered to Craig's City Council.
According to Cameron's report, 11 of the 15 arrests resulted from investigations this year, and four suspects were apprehended from investigations that began last year.
Four suspects were arrested for cocaine distribution; six for methamphetamine distribution; two for prescription drug fraud; and one each for possession of methamphetamine, distribution of marijuana and a psilocybin mushroom grow operation.
The task force, according to the report, seized 346 grams of cocaine (estimated value of $39,466), 10.5 grams of methamphetamine (estimated value of $1,251), and three grams of marijuana (estimated value of $50).
The drugs have a combined street value of $40,767, ACET reported.
Vanatta commended ACET for its work. He said the price of narcotics in the Yampa Valley is twice as high as other areas across the state thanks to ACET's aggressive pursuit of distributors.
"Some of the good news that has come out of the task force is the price of drugs has gone way up in Moffat County," Vanatta said. "The task force has a reputation and people are afraid of getting busted."
ACET dismantled two significant drug trafficking operations this year, Vanatta said.
One took place in Steamboat Springs and entailed two people being arrested and charged with cocaine distribution.
According to the ACET report, the task force was successful in seizing 340 grams of cocaine and $15,560 in cash.
The other investigation Vanatta highlighted involved ACET shutting down an alleged methamphetamine lab in January in Hayden.
Four people were arrested in connection with the alleged lab.
One suspect was sentenced to five years in Correctional Alternative Placement Services in Craig. The other three suspects are going through the judicial process.
"The methamphetamine lab was a substantial source of methamphetamine to our communities," the ACET report stated.
In addition to its own narcotics investigations, ACET reported it assisted the Routt County Sheriff's Office with two large-scale home burglaries.
"They were successful in recovering more than $250,000 in stolen property as a result of those burglaries," Vanatta said.