Pubdate: Wed, 11 Oct 2006
Source: Athens Daily News (GA)
Copyright: 2006 Athens Newspapers Inc.
Author: Dorie Turner, AP
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Would Add 15 Investigators

ATLANTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday proposed doubling the number 
of agents in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's new 
methamphetamine task force.

The proposal would add 15 investigators to the Meth Force, which was 
formed earlier this year to curtail the trafficking, production and 
distribution of the popular drug.

"An additional 15 agents on the GBI Meth Force will double the 
state's efforts to combat meth and related crimes like burglaries, 
assaults and even homicides," Perdue said in a news release.

He made the announcement during a news conference at the GBI's 
regional drug enforcement office in Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta.

Perdue plans to ask lawmakers to approve the $1 million proposal in 
his amended fiscal 2007 budget.

It would provide enough manpower for the Meth Force to train local 
law enforcement on how to handle meth labs and to focus efforts on 
meth trafficking in the metro Atlanta area, Perdue said.

Georgia has cracked down on meth in the last few years, passing 
tougher penalties for those caught manufacturing, transferring or 
possessing the drug. Last year, the state passed a law that requires 
products with pseudoephedrine - a key ingredient in making meth - to 
be sold behind the counter at stores.

Still, the GBI, like other state agencies, has coped with budget cuts 
from the early years of Perdue's term.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, meth in Georgia is found 
most commonly in the northern and central regions. The number of 
treatment-related admissions to publicly funded facilities in the 
state soared from about 200 in 1999 to 953 in 2001, the latest data available.

Georgia officials reported the discovery of 131 meth labs in 2005, 
which trails Tennessee's 861 and Florida's 273, according to the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration.

Tuesday's proposal follows an announcement last month that Perdue 
plans to ask lawmakers for $900,000 to dedicate 13 more GBI agents to 
trolling the Internet for sexual predators who prey on children.

In recent weeks, Perdue's campaign has rolled out policy proposals 
and followed up, sometimes hours later, with campaign ads touting the 
new policy. His campaign spokesman Derrick Dickey declined to say 
whether an ad would appear on the new meth proposal.

Perdue, a Republican, is running for re-election in November against 
Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.
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