Pubdate: Thu, 07 Feb 2008
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Note: The Journal does not publish LTEs from writers outside its 
circulation area
Author: Sherry Youngquist
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our 
editors may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who 
have not been convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise 
public figures or officials.
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Rural Communities Following Lead of Large Cities in Efforts to Work 
With Federal Agencies

YADKINVILLE - The Yadkinville police officer had a hunch about the 
comings and goings from the parking lot at the Days Inn motel.

First, a woman got out of a Jeep Liberty and into a Dodge Durango. 
Then, a group of men outside the hotel got in the Jeep and left. When 
they returned, they switched vehicles again and drove away.

The officer called for backup from Yadkin County's drug-interdiction 
team. And with that call local officers also got help with 
surveillance from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's El Paso 
Intelligence Center. According to a search warrant, the night's 
journeys had just begun. The Durango made stops in Hamptonville, 
North Wilkesboro, a small Wilkes County community called Hayes and 
Winston-Salem before returning to a house in Hamptonville.

Within hours, the team raided the house and seized 8 kilograms of 
cocaine - one of the largest drug seizures ever in Yadkin County. 
"Forsyth had an interdiction team for years and so have other larger 
law enforcement," Chief Tim Parks of the Yadkinville Police 
Department said. "We had a good feeling we could be just as useful." 
Major cities have worked with federal agencies for years on drug 
cases, and now rural communities are beginning to build similar 
relationships, Parks said. Yadkin's team got started last summer.

Davidson County has had a team for several years, trained to spot 
suspicious activity on the county's roads. I n Wilkes and Davie 
counties, officers are trained in drug enforcement, but they do not 
work full time on highway interdiction, only as the need arises, officers said.

Large-scale drug organizations depend on nation's highways to reach 
varied communities. Making drug seizures and arrests in rural 
communities is just as important as making them in larger 
metropolitan areas, said Garrison Courtney, a spokesman for the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Agency. "Even if they are lower-level sources, it's 
all building a case," Courtney said. "Based on the information from 
the dealer we can work it all the way back to a major cartel." In 
less than two months, Yadkin County's highway drug-interdiction team 
has made two major seizures: the one in Hamptonville and a second one 
that netted 185 pounds of marijuana.

Yadkin County sheriff's deputies and Yadkinville police arrested 
[redacted], where the cocaine was found Dec. 12. [redacted], was 
charged with trafficking cocaine, trafficking methamphetamine, and 
maintaining a vehicle for drug purposes. He remains in jail, with 
bond set at $1 million. Iredell County authorities were also involved 
in the case.

[redacted]'s attorney, David Braswell of Rocky Mount, did not return 
phone calls. The next month, officers seized 185 pounds of marijuana 
from a van on Interstate 77 near Jonesville. An officer noticed a 
Dodge Grand Caravan following another vehicle too closely, and 
according to a search warrant, as the officer pulled alongside the 
van the driver tried to hide his face. The van came to a stop, and 
the officer found [redacted] nervous and shaking, the search warrant 
said. Inside, there were several boxes of marijuana. [redacted], of 
the Canadian province of Ontario was charged with trafficking in 
marijuana, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana, and 
maintaining a vehicle for drug purposes. He remains in jail, with 
bond set at $1 million.

His attorney, Thomas Fagerli, declined to comment on the case. 
Yadkin's highway drug-interdiction team began in 2006 but did not 
take off until mid-2007.

In 2006, Yadkin County deputies worked with officers from 
Yadkinville, Wilkes County and Iredell County for a 30-day trial 
period. They trained with U.S. Customs agents, and though they will 
not specify what the training entailed, they focused on the two major 
corridors running through the area - Interstate 77 and U.S. 421.

Iredell created a full-time team of officers to work on highway 
interdiction. Wilkes did not form a full-time team, but officers 
there do work on such cases as time permits.

Yadkin County and Yadkinville did not want to increase their budgets. 
So, Yadkin Sheriff Mike Cain and Parks, the Yadkinville police chief, 
designated one officer each to form the team.

The two officers began working full time as the county's highway 
drug-interdiction team in July 2007. They were surprised by their 
early success. "We are impressed," sheriff's Maj. Danny Widener said. 
Drug investigations in the past have largely consisted of narcotics 
officers building relationships for months at a time. Sometimes a 
two- or three-month investigation might yield a quarter bag of 
cocaine. Even then, it may not lead to a dealer.

"You don't just walk out here and buy an eightball and take down a 
top dog," Cain said. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake