Pubdate: Wed, 09 May 2007
Source: Tucson Citizen (AZ)
Copyright: 2007 Tucson Citizen
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Every task force report ever written calls for a bunch of 
facilitating, implementing and coordinating, and the governor's task 
force report on methamphetamine does not disappoint.

But amid the recommendations for more prevention, treatment, 
investigation and coordination (yawn), a major omission looms.

A most creative approach to prosecuting meth miscreants was hatched 
by the Pima County Attorney's Office.

But while Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall headed the governor's 
task force on meth, that panel's report fails to note the innovation.

Local prosecutors use Arizona's strong racketeering statutes to go 
after entire "cells" of meth criminals and get them sentenced to 
considerable prison time.

Rather than a slap on the wrist for every bad check, mail theft and 
stolen car related to meth addicts, our overwhelmed law officers and 
prosecutors years ago saw the need for a new approach.

Pima County, a federally recognized High-Intensity Drug Trafficking 
Area, has been slammed hard by meth.

So our Counter Narcotics Alliance, consisting of city, county, state 
and federal investigators, targets and charges meth operators en 
masse, and LaWall's office prosecutes them the same way.

It's a savvy strategy. Without it, local prosecutors would be 
drowning in caseloads of minor crimes leading to minor penalties, 
with multiple repeats guaranteed.

Instead, our county is putting criminals behind bars for years.

As meth continues to flood our state and nation with relentless crime 
rates spurred by meth addicts, dealers and smugglers, we need to use 
every smart strategy available.

In this instance, other Arizona areas could learn a thing or two from 
our local experts. And the governor's task force should have noted that.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman