OPINION COLUMNS

Arrested Developments: Meth seizures up 200 percent from last year

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, March 16, 2019
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Last week, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin shared some eye-opening numbers related to methamphetamine use in the county.

The sheriff’s office, along with Wise Health System and the Wise County Community Health Improvement Committee, held an “Addiction is Real” methamphetamine community forum at the Wise County Fairgrounds’ Women’s Building March 5.

Akin, who worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety in the 1980s as an undercover narcotics officer, said the problem is even worse today than it was back then.

For one thing, he said he could buy a gram of meth (think the size of a sugar sweetener packet) for $100. That same gram can now be bought for just $30.

“It’s more potent and more deadly,” he said. “It breaks up more families. It causes more crime, because people are constantly chasing that same euphoria.”

He repeated the number he has cited several times since before the first methamphetamine forum last summer: he estimates 85 percent of the people in the Wise County Jail are there either directly or indirectly due to methamphetamine.

But it was the growing amount of methamphetamine seizures that drew gasps from the crowd.

“In 2017, my second year as sheriff, we seized 459 grams of meth. That’s about 2,754 dosage units,” he said.

“In 2018, we seized 3,222 grams. That’s more than 19,000 dosage units.

“So far this year, we’re already at 10,000 grams – that’s just two months”

He didn’t provide the math for that last number, but by my calculations, that’s around 60,000 dosage units seized in just two months.

Fighting the scourge of methamphetamine is a battle law enforcement alone won’t be able to win.

“We’re serious about pursuing this, but we know we can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” the sheriff said. “We need the help of everyone in this community to convince folks this is not the way to go.”

Akin said he saw a three-part system to addressing the problem, which he compared to the three legs of a stool. Those three legs include enforcement, education and treatment.

The enforcement leg of that stool is the sheriff’s office’s responsibility. He commended the work of his officers, many of whom were in attendance, for being the ones “who pursue night and day those who are trafficking methamphetamine.”

DRUG ARREST

On March 7, many of those officers were busy removing more methamphetamine off the streets.

Around 7 a.m., officers with the WCSO along with the assistance of the Bridgeport Police Department served a search warrant at a home in the 300 block of Trinity Street on the west side of Bridgeport.

“We developed some information about methamphetamine being sold out of that house. We got a search warrant and came away with a little over 1 ounce of methamphetamine,” said WCSO Chief Deputy Craig Johnson.

One ounce translates into about 30 grams.

Officers arrested Angela Fayth McDaniel, 46, for possession of a controlled substance in penalty group one in an amount of 4 to 200 grams. She was released March 8 from Wise County Jail after posting a bond for $25,000.

Brian Knox is the Messenger special projects editor

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