Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jul 2003
Source: North County Times (CA)
Contact:  2003 North County Times
Author: Ken Ma, Staff Writer 
(Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act)


SAN DIEGO -- Flanked by law enforcement officials from across the region,
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis on Wednesday announced the creation of a
narcotics division that will specialize in prosecuting drug traffickers and
work with police to curb illegal drug use. 

The division, formed through a reorganization of existing staff and
resources, is also being established to work with federal authorities who
identified San Diego County as one of 25 metro areas in the nation in which
40 percent to 80 percent of America's drug trade occurs, Dumanis said. 

"Drugs destroy lives," she said during an afternoon news conference at the
Hall of Justice in downtown San Diego. "We want to put more traffickers in
prison for a longer period of time." 

Deputy District Attorney Damon C. Mosler will head 18 of his fellow
prosecutors in the new division to work with 300 federal, state and local
police officials in combating drug supply and demand throughout the county,
Dumanis said. The drug prosecutors will be based throughout the county,
including the Vista Court Complex. 

The district attorney said the creation of the new division did not cost any
taxpayer dollars because existing resources were used. The division's annual
operating budget, however, has yet to be worked out, she said. 

Dumanis gained support for the plan from John Walters, the director of the
Office of National Drug Control Policy. The federal drug czar, who attended
the news conference, said the San Diego metropolitan area is one of 25 metro
areas targeted by a national campaign to reduce drug use. 

"The campaign is only as good as the local people who deploy our
initiative," Walters said. 

Local prosecutors and federal authorities released figures Wednesday that
they say support the need for the new narcotics division. 

In 2001, the most recent numbers available, 3,555 people in the San Diego
region were arrested for alleged driving under the influence of drugs and
alcohol, an increase from 3,117 arrests in 2000, according to national drug
statistics presented at the news conference. 

Also in 2001, 22.5 percent of San Diego area youths were using marijuana, a
percentage slightly lower than the national youth usage rate of 23.9
percent, the statistics showed. 

That same year, 62 percent of all adult males and 61 percent of all adult
females arrested in the county tested positive for at least one illegal
substance, according to national statistics. 

Drug-induced deaths countywide increased from 205 in 1995 to 279 in 1998,
according to the latest drug statistics. 

Methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine pose the biggest threats to the region,
statistics show. Marijuana also poses a significant threat. 

The district attorney's drug prosecutors will handle cases that include
buying or selling illegal drugs; buying and selling drugs used in rape cases
and steroids; gang members who commit narcotics offenses; and secret labs. 

The prosecutors will also oversee the Drug Endangered Children Program,
which seeks to protect children living with caregivers who use or sell
drugs; provide training to law enforcement officers on new issues, case
preparation and informant issues; and provide advice and oversight on
Proposition 215, which allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

They will also work with courts and county probation officers to implement
the Drug Court and Proposition 36, which sends drug offenders to treatment
facilities for the first two offenses instead of prison. There are 53
treatment providers and six drug courts in San Diego County. 

In addition, the prosecutors will work with county and community officials
to educate users and potential users, as well as developing ideas to curb

Mosler, the unit's chief, said a majority of his prosecutors have between
five and 10 years of experience prosecuting narcotics cases. Some of those
cases have included large marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and Ecstasy
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk