Polk County Drug Task Force reports good first year
Polk County's Drug Task Force, in its first year of operation, was responsible for almost 50 arrests in 2008, and some task force members expect to see more action in future years, particularly a resurgence of methamphetamine.
Scott, the task force commander who asked the Herald to withhold his last name for security reasons, said there were 133 investigations that yielded the arrests. So far this year, he said, the task force is conducting 54 investigations.
"I don't want to make it sound bad, but there's a lot of dope in this area," said Steve, a member of the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force. The Grand Forks area, like Fargo, he said, is a hub for drug dealers.
He and Scott briefed East Grand Forks City Council members Tuesday.
East Grand Forks, along with the city of Crookston and Polk County, are funding the task force. The two cities, in particular, see the most drug activities.
Based on seizures of drugs last year, the two biggest categories of drugs in the county were prescription painkillers -- the task force seized more than 300 pills, which can fetch up to $40 each on the street -- and marijuana. The task force seized 12 pounds of commercial grade marijuana and 5 pounds of high-grade marijuana, which is more expensive.
The task force also seized 4 grams of crack and 10 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Meth labs were not as common as years past, though the task force did track seven of them.
The trends appear to be the same this year, with seizures of 60 pills, 12 pounds of commercial grade marijuana, half a pound of high-grade marijuana and a meth lab.
Federal law enforcement data suggests that's going to change, though, Scott said. "Meth cooks" who had been jailed are scheduled for release, he said, and he expects they'll be repeat offenders.
One consequence of that, Steve said, is they're more desperate to stay out of jail because repeat offenders will get locked up a lot longer. He said officers are seizing more guns in drug busts.
By having a drug task force in Polk County to complement the task force in Grand Forks, Steve said authorities are making it harder for drug dealers, who used to be able to store their drugs in East Grand Forks because it was safer for them. Before the task force, he said, East Side's two investigators were overwhelmed with other cases and didn't have time to focus purely on drug cases.
The task force, Scott said, is focused especially on meth and cocaine.
Some council members wanted to know what residents can do to help.
Scott and Steve said good warning signs are homes where lots of out-of-state cars come and go at all hours of the night, especially if they stop by for only a few minutes at a time. Officers have gotten calls from suspicious neighbors and, much of the time, they said, the suspect is someone they've dealt with before.