Pubdate: Thu, 01 Sep 2005
Source: Tucson Citizen (AZ)
Copyright: 2005 Tucson Citizen
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Congratulations to the Counter Narcotics Alliance for its fine work 
yesterday, arresting 39 suspects in an alleged major methamphetamine ring 
thought to have perpetrated at least 102 crimes in our community over the 
past two years.

The alliance - composed of every area in law enforcement operation, from 
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to the University of Arizona 
Police Department and U.S. Postal Inspection Service - stands as a shining 
example of the power of cooperation on a shared mission.

The Greenwell-Owens meth cell, as CNA Commander David Neri calls it, is 
suspected of having conducted more than 800 meth transactions over the past 
six months, distributing 20 pounds of the toxic and highly addictive drug 
to more than 100 customers.

Considering that the standard dose for the typical meth addict is 
one-quarter of a gram, 20 pounds of meth is a significant amount.

Police say stolen cars, money, firearms and services, including 
prostitution, were exchanged for the drug.

This cell was primarily a sales operation, in contrast to the big meth lab 
seized outside of Arivaca in July, officers say.

Early yesterday, 80 officers and agents - including SWAT teams from the 
Pima County Sheriff's Department and the Tucson Police Department - headed 
out across the Tucson area and apprehended 31 of the 39 suspects.

Neri predicted that the remaining eight would be arrested soon.

The apprehension of this group marks the second "cell" - or loosely 
affiliated group of alleged meth makers, dealers and users - to be targeted 
for prosecution here.

The investigation into the latest cell had been under way for two years. 
The prosecution of these people, if they are convicted, will prevent at 
least 1,400 crimes a year in our community, Neri said.

Charges against the group range from aggravated assault and kidnapping to 
robbery, forgery and theft.

In this case, no lab was uncovered and, fortunately, no children were found 
to have been exposed to the hazardous drug.

Calling meth an "insidious, pervasive drug," DEA Assistant Special Agent in 
Charge Anthony J. Coulson noted that meth "far more than any other drug 
we've encountered has a devastating impact on communities."

That's obvious in Tucson, home to the nation's worst property-crime rate, 
driven largely by the methamphetamine problem.

Neri termed yesterday "an exceptionally good day" and he said probes are 
under way into many more meth cells. And still more are waiting in the 
wings for investigators to become available.

Meth has proven to be the scourge of the Tucson area, and we commend every 
law enforcement officer and agency on their continuing efforts to eradicate 
meth from our area.
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