Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 2016
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2016 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Monica Vaughan


If the drugs seized by regional agents are any indication of what 
substances are flowing on the streets of Yuba-Sutter, then marijuana 
is booming and methamphetamine is making a comeback.

The annual report for the Yuba-Sutter gang and drug enforcement team 
NET-5 offers a glimpse into local drug trends in the last few years.

Methamphetamine continues to be the drug most affecting area 
residents, the report says, and the prevalence of the drug is slowly 
creeping back up after legislation effectively cut supplies five years ago.

Marijuana is the most prevalent drug, as the number of local plants 
and marijuana-related products is growing. The number of butane honey 
oil labs busted increased from one in 2012 to 16 in 2015, and the 
labs are becoming more sophisticated, with the use of commercial 
ovens. They remain dangerous, however, and two labs exploded last 
year causing severe burns to at least four people, Commander Martin Horan said.

Meanwhile, heroin use seems to be confined to a small group of users 
and cocaine is moderately prevalent, aside from a large quantity 
seized from one distributor. Crack cocaine and hallucinogens are 
scarce, if present at all.

Agents primarily target low-level street dealers and mid-level 
distributors, some of whom have been found to have connections to 
Mexican drug cartels, Horan said.

Most of the drugs seized in 2015 came from three large, unrelated busts.

NET-5 agents arrested 145 people in 2015, 114 of whom were charged 
with drug-related offenses, including possession and distribution. 
And methamphetamine was involved in nearly every investigation agents 
conducted. Suspects admitted to regularly using the drug, says the 
report, authored by Horan.

Back in 2011, NET-5 agents seized more than 45 pounds of meth from 
the streets of Yuba-Sutter. Supplies of the drug were drastically 
reduced that year when legislators restricted sales of ephedrine. In 
2012, agents seized under four pounds locally.

Since 2012, the drug's presence  as seen by anti-drug agents  has 
slowly increased. In 2014, agents seized about 7 pounds of the 
stimulant. Last year, they seized more than 9 pounds, although six 
pounds came from a single bust.

Now, instead of local labs, agents are finding that meth is produced 
in Mexico and smuggled into California.

Production of marijuana, however, is local.

Agents seized more than twice as many marijuana plants as in 2011, 
although a vast majority of those came from a single bust in Sutter 
County, where 17,000 clones were found on a 2-acre farm.

With the passage of Proposition 215, those grows have moved from 
public to private land. A total of 21,109 plants were seized last year.

Yuba-Sutter is a hub for trafficking, as growers from Florida, 
Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas have been arrested at grow sites 
here. A pound of the leafygreen sold in California for $1,500, could 
be sold for $3,500 to $5,000 on the East Coast and in the Midwest, 
the report says.

A total of 1,886 pounds of marijuana was seized, some of which was 
found in parcels intercepted at FedEx and UPS.
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