‘People here are financing drug operations’

Tue, 02/26/2008 - 4:56pm
By: John Munford

Fayette’s new ‘high-intensity drug trafficking’ label by the feds will bring more money, equipment to fight drugs

Fayette County was recently designated by federal agents as a high intensity drug trafficking area, but not because of the volume of illegal drugs changing hands locally, according to Sheriff Randall Johnson.

Instead, it’s because quite a few Fayette residents are involved in financing the drug trade in metro Atlanta, Johnson said.

“We have people living here who are financing drug operations,” Johnson said. “That’s because they have money.”

Jack Killorin, director of the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, said one reason for bestowing the designation on Fayette is because it’s a part of metro Atlanta, which he said has become the main distribution hub for the east coast of the U.S. for illegal drug operations.

Killorin also noted that the recent metro-wide sting on marijuana grow houses started with a tip in Fayette County that the sheriff’s department’s Drug Task Force worked on.

The HIDTA designation means that Fayette will be eligible for more funding to investigate drug cases along with additional equipment and technology, federal officials said in a news release.

Capt. Mike Pruitt, who heads up the sheriff’s department’s Drug Task Force, said Monday that he was surprised at Fayette getting the high-intensity drug trafficking designation.

Though Fayette has street-level dealers, many of whom actually live in other counties, there are no massive drug cartels operating here, Pruitt said. Fayette doesn’t have a large-scale drug distribution problem, Pruitt added.

Fayette also doesn’t have a problem with large-scale drug production, either, as the last lab busted in the county was over three years ago, Pruitt noted.

“I’m not saying Fayette County doesn’t have a drug problem, because we do,” Pruitt said. “We’ve got dope and we’ve got dope in our schools.”

Pruitt said his DTF arrests the street-level dealers and also goes after the larger distributors in the metro Atlanta area.

Working in the metro area allows the drugs to be seized before they’re distributed to the communities in metro Atlanta, including Fayette, Pruitt said. The larger operations are run in conjunction with the David Wilheim Joint Strike Force, a group of local, state and federal agencies combining their efforts on drug interdiction, Pruitt said.

The sheriff’s department’s Drug Task Force has long worked cases outside the county lines in metro Atlanta in cooperation with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Pruitt said HIDTA typically focuses on smaller players than the joint strike force, doing deals ranging up to 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds or slightly under what three gallons of water weighs) of cocaine, for example. In contrast, the joint strike force is going after distributors with hundreds of kilos of cocaine, Pruitt added.

Killorin said the sheriff’s department supported getting the HIDTA designation for Fayette County.

Fayette’s local DTF recently increased in size to nine agents, which helps tremendously in providing manpower for surveillance, Johnson said. Some large drug operations are so sizable that perhaps three locations must be watched simultaneously, the sheriff added.

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Submitted by sageadvice on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 7:56pm.

Or so says the above article!
I can't believe the amount of information we are now getting about such things as drugs, gangs, robbery, etc., than we are now due to a Sheriff's election coming up!
Anybody think any of those running can take the force available in the department and solve these problems, or prevent them from expanding?
Is it a county thing or a city thing? Seems as if all the information leading to any arrests (except the guy with a Maryjane Cigarette)is done by the federals!

I have advised you before-----let the Sheriff run the jail , serve warrants, and arrest city and county crooks, and protect the judges.

Hire a County Force who is educated, trained, and answerable to the County Administrator, to plan and implement a strike against crime in Fayette County. Also good enough for cities to call on them when needed.

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