Task force: drug seizures on the rise | SteamboatToday.com

Task force: drug seizures on the rise

ACET also reaching out to users seeking help

Joshua Roberts

— The All Crimes Enforcement Team, formerly known as GRAMNET, seized more than $250,000 worth of illegal narcotics in 2007, a number more than double the previous year’s drug seizures.

“Our mission is the same – to combat every aspect of illegal narcotics,” said Garrett Wiggins, ACET task force commander.

The year-end seizure numbers were part of information ACET recently released during its annual meeting with financial contributors and assisting agencies.

Contributors include the cities of Craig and Steamboat Springs, Moffat and Jackson counties, and the town of Hayden; assisting agencies are the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Wiggins said ACET was encouraged by feedback from the contributors and agencies during the meeting. About 32 representatives attended, he said.

“They realize the importance of the task force,” he said. “They understand the impact illegal narcotics is having on our community. Everyone is committed to seeing the task force move forward.”

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Routt County’s financial withdrawal from what was then GRAMNET in 2007 prompted the task force’s reorganization, which took the first six months of the year to complete. It included renaming the task force and, though maintaining its focus on narcotics, broadening its mission to include other crimes stemming from drug cases.

Wiggins said a chunk of the dollar figure attached to last year’s drug seizures stemmed from seizing about 51 marijuana plants, each plant capable of producing 6 ounces to 1 pound of marijuana. The street value of those plants is anywhere from $110,000 to $300,000, Wiggins said.

At one point in the task force’s history, methamphetamine distribution was the main priority, Wiggins said. And while that’s still the case, ACET isn’t ignoring distribution of other drugs, he added.

“It’s still meth because of the horrific effect it has on users,” Wiggins said. “It’s a very high priority, but it’s not the only drug out there that we’re concentrating on. : We focus on whatever intel we have at that point. If it’s illegal, we’re going after it.”

Restrictions on methamphetamine precursors have reduced the number of labs in area communities, Wiggins said, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the flow of that particular drug is waning.

Instead, he believes more of the narcotic is being brought in from other areas, Mexico being one example.

The task force sees various types of drugs in the area. Wiggins cited cocaine and heroin (a drug he said is making a comeback), as well as teen use of Ecstasy and prescription pills as examples.

But now, instead of fighting the so-called drug war solely on the law enforcement front, Wiggins said ACET is branching out to help users looking for a way out from their addictions.

“We know there is a lot more to it,” he said.

If a user has “hit rock bottom,” and needs help getting in contact with people who can help, ACET will try to connect that person with treatment options, Wiggins said.

“If we can get them some help,” he said, “we can reduce the demand. : Anyone that wants some help, they can call us. It can be anonymously; we’re not out to put them in jail, and we will steer them in the right direction.”

The new direction isn’t formal, Wiggins said, rather the product of discussion among task force members and other law enforcement officers on another way to reduce drugs in the area.

“We feel there is a need to have a point of contact,” he said. “It’s not something that’s in writing, but we feel it’s a program that should be installed.”

ACET can be reached at 276-2075. If no one answers, callers may leave a message or call back until they reach someone, Wiggins said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.