Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Source: Appeal Tribune (OR)
Copyright: 2008 Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon


Coalition Of Law Enforcement Agencies Fights Drug  Successfully

Marion County's methamphetamine dealers have moved up  in the world -
from mom-and-pop operations to  full-fledged drug cartels.

Fortunately, local police departments have an ally in  pursuing them:
the Meth Strike Force, a partnership of  police agencies and courts
that arrests mid-level  dealers and holds them accountable.

The group is made up of seasoned drug officers from  Salem, Keizer,
Woodburn and Marion County, plus a  prosecutor who sees their cases
through court. But this  year-and-a-half-old force has helped rural
Marion  County as well.

For one thing, meth dealers don't recognize city  limits. They sell to
any addict with money. The high  cost of meth fuels much of the
Mid-Valley's property  crime and identity theft. Residents throughout
the  county want this to stop. For another, the Meth Strike  Force has
fostered collaboration among all of Marion  County's law enforcement
agencies. Last May, when a  multi-agency drug bust moved in on eight
Salem-area  homes, arresting seven suspects and seizing 1.5 pounds  of
meth, just about every police force took part. No  one community has
the resources for such a raid, but  everyone benefits when it can be
pulled off.

However, the Meth Strike Force comes with a price tag.  Last year,
public-spirited businesspeople paid the  entire tab because they were
so fed up with meth's  toll. This year, the strike force is asking
donors to  raise $150,000; local governments will match that  amount.

The cause is a good one. Already this partnership has  meant more
arrests, more meth pulled off the street,  more drug dealers
successfully prosecuted and more  children placed in foster care.

That makes a difference to Marion County residents,  because everyone
is affected somehow by trafficking in  meth. You may be victimized by
property crimes, like  the hundreds of people whose valuables were
discovered  recently in a rural building near Gervais. Your car may
get stolen by an addict looking for cash.

You may discover that metal pipe is missing from your  farm, or
bleachers from your high school sports field.  Your car may crash
because some meth-head has torn up  valuable guard rail from a lonely

Your taxes pay to care for drug-addicted jail and  prison inmates, for
school children with drug-related  learning disabilities, for the
state's thinly stretched  protective-care system.

The Meth Strike Force can make life difficult for drug  dealers - not
only in cities, but in Marion County's  smallest towns.

That's a goal worth investing in.
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