ToquiNotes: Mexican Cartels, Violence, Meth and Drug Task Force Talk that Should have You Concerned

By Jeff Toquinto on January 20, 2018 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

There are a couple of things the Commander of the Harrison County Drug Task Force wants you to know. First and foremost involves the situation of the drug problem we have in the county and where it’s located and where some think it isn’t located.
 
“There’s not one community immune from it and there’s not one community responsible for it,” said the Commander. “It’s in Bridgeport, Clarksburg and everywhere; some more than others, but those who don’t think it’s in their community have an uninformed opinion or an under informed opinion. Apparently, these are the people who don’t come out of their house after dark.”
 
The Commander also was very specific about what he thinks is the main thing that can be done about the drug epidemic that has buried the region, the state and large part of the country. And it’s simple.
 
“The best thing people can do is just be a parent to their kids. That’s just my opinion, but that’s where I believe the initial breakdown is that makes this problem possible,” said the Commander.
 
Talking with the Commander, which I do once or twice a year for this blog, was for more than just to remind people that it’s everyone’s problem because it’s in everyone’s backyard – and sometimes in the house. It was because of recent drug statistics released at the end of 2017 involving West Virginia.
 
There were several stories that ran not just statewide, but nationally on drug use. West Virginia didn’t fare well in the reports. It didn’t stop some people from believing the epidemic is on the downturn.
 
The one stat cited by a few folks on social media pointing to things getting better is that overdose deaths dropped this past year from the numbers in 2016. In fact, here’s quote directly from an article in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch on that very statistic.
 
“The Mountain State as a whole suffered 724 overdose deaths in 2017 by the most recent state figures, though those numbers are expected to increase as more suspected overdose deaths are processed through the state medical examiner, said Toby Wagoner, Department of Health and Human Resources spokesman. West Virginia recorded 884 overdose deaths in 2016.”
 
The Commander said the drop could be due to a few things. He said people are actually going away a bit for opiates, which he said is part of standard trends in drug use he’s witnessed after years battling against it. He added that fatal overdoses are more common with opiate use as opposed to the use of other drugs of choice, which right now appears to be meth.
 
“It could be that, or law enforcement pressure, political pressure or something else. Maybe some suppliers are realizing it’s stupid to kill off your clients,” said the Commander. “We’re definitely trending toward methamphetamine as our number one drug right now.”
 
The bigger reason, he believes, is something else. The more common application of Narcan, which is now an over the counter drug administered to reverse the effects of an overdose and is part of nearly every emergency service crews medical kits at the time.
 
“Narcan, without a doubt, has changed the game. It’s redefined the numbers. I think they’d be up without it, but I can’t tell you they’d be way up because I don’t get the data on Narcan use from every provider out there; primarily law enforcement as opposed to straight medical calls,” said the Commander. “It would be difficult to give an estimate, but I can assure you it would be higher.”
 
The fact that the drug use has switched from heroin that has been laced with the deadly additives of fentanyl and flakka to more meth isn’t exactly great news. It’s just different news with a little more vicious twist on it.
 
“With meth, they get more violent. The violence against law enforcement and each other is going to go up in 2018. That’s not a casual prediction I’m just making,” the Commander said. “This type of violence is of the nature that when it goes down you don’t want to see it.”
 
The Commander said meth has exploded on the scene. And not just recently. He pointed to a time two decades ago when he was still fresh in the drug business.
 
“Back in the day, 20 years ago, no one really had meth and if they did it was in small batches,” the Commander said. “Today, the guys I work with have over 100 years of combined experience and we’re all amazed that people dealing, small fries, have large supplies of methamphetamine. It’s hard to figure out why they have so much, but they have it. I think it’s just so cheap from its source area.”
 
And here’s what really is alarming. As reported in this blog back in 2014, some of the drug trafficking was coming from nationally known gangs the Bloods and Crips. The meth, as it is showing up now, is coming from another very dangerous source.
 
“It’s mostly coming from Mexican cartels and it’s filtering its way here,” said the Commander. “It just makes a hard battle more difficult.”
 
Battles like this aren’t cheap. Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Harrison County and others help with the funding. The problem is, like everything else, there’s not enough of it. With this type of drug problems, having difficulties to keep pace financially can be deadly.
 
“Everyone has the best of intentions that helps us, but the way to pay for those intentions is a little more problematic because the good intentions usually cost good money,” said the Commander. “For me, it’s trying to put out the biggest fires first with limited resources. It makes a frustrating situation a little more frustrating, but we’ll keep up the battle.”
 
It’s a battle I don’t see an end to. And if there is an end to it, it’s not a year or two down the line. It’s likely a generation down the line. The Commander, as mentioned, knows the opening place to start and he also knows another.
 
“It’s got to be at home first, but we’ve got to educate these kids, particularly in middle school when they can really be reached,” the Commander said. “There’s a little bit of education out there, but there needs to be a hell of lot more education about this in our schools if we’re going to see a change.”
 
If that doesn’t convince you something needs to be done, then perhaps the issues with deaths and the increase in meth use and the fact that we’re now dealing with supplies from Mexican drug cartels will. If you’re still not convinced, to paraphrase the Commander, you probably need to come out of your house.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows a member of the Drug Task Force, in mask, going into the Hot Stuff, Cool Things raid in 2012. Second photo, from the DEA Web site, is of methamphetamine. Bottom  photo shows a Harrison County crime scene, many of which usually have a drug component to them.


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