Pubdate: Sat, 24 Apr 2004
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 Amarillo Globe-News
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


PRNTTF Painted With Broad Brush

What was described by law enforcement as "one of the largest meth labs
found to date" was shut down Tuesday in Amarillo. According to the
Amarillo Police Department, equipment used to create methamphetamine
was found in two places in a northwest Amarillo mobile home and in a
nearby vehicle. "Large amounts" of drug equipment and related items
were confiscated. It is worth noting one of the law enforcement
entities that participated in the bust - the Panhandle Regional
Narcotics Trafficking Task Force. Yes, the same task force that
received a black eye for the infamous 1999 Tulia drug sting. The
well-publicized Tulia fiasco created a national controversy regarding
the integrity and competency of certain law enforcement agencies,
primarily the PRNTTF.

The aftershocks of Tulia have resulted in almost every county in the
PRNTTF reaching a monetary settlement with those wrongly convicted in
the sting.

The city of Amarillo forked over $5 million, by far the largest of any
single entity in the PRNTTF. The question of financial liability
prompted city leaders to dissolve the city's membership with the
PRNTTF, creating serious doubt as to its future.

Clearly, Tulia and the recent meth lab bust are separate issues.

However, the broad interpretation of the PRNTTF based on the
reprehensible actions of a few people in Tulia, one of whom has his
own court date, is not an accurate depiction.

Ask any law enforcement official about the growing and dangerous
presence of methamphetamine, not only in the Panhandle but across the
nation. Law enforcement entities such as the PRNTTF can be a useful
weapon against what is becoming a drug-use epidemic.

Tuesday is proof of that.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin