Comments Off on Limited resources to fight Methamphetamine in Yuba-Sutter

Local drug task force agents regularly bust low-level distributors of methamphetamine, but they’re limited in their ability to go after major suppliers.

The commander of the bi-county drug and gang task force (NET-5), Martin Horan, said the flow of methamphetamine is “like a leak in a dam. You can stand at the leak with a towel, or you can find the cause of the leak.”

Local law enforcement makes the local busts.

Investigators with NET-5 arrested two suspected distributors and seized $10,000 worth of methamphetamine last week, culminating a three-week investigation.

Oshauna Margaret Silva and Domingo Delgado Valasquez, both 39, were booked into Sutter County Jail on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine for sale and transportation of methamphetamine. Valasquez is believed to be undocumented and has an immigration hold. Horan said his team is looking into who supplied the meth.

But their resources to find and go after the sources are limited.

“We don’t have the manpower or money to chase the sources of who’s bringing it here,” Horan said.

And meth use is prevalent in Yuba-Sutter, even though local production drastically declined (due, in part, to regulation of medications containing pseudoephedrine). The drug is now supplied by distribution from major labs in Southern California and Mexico.

State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris earlier this year called the trafficking of methamphetamine a growing threat to the state.

The source of methamphetamine is ultimately Southern California or Mexico, Horan said, and they’ve approached other agencies to work together on the case, but “nobody else has indicated any interest in it.”

Prior to 2012, Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agents could assist agencies like NET-5 by coordinating information with other regional agencies or by taking over the case and employing a statewide approach.

The bureau was closed in 2012 due to budget cuts.

Investigators’ choices now are to reach out to another local task force or to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“We don’t get a high priority,” Horan said of the DEA.

Heavy meth use began in the area when Yuba County was a major supplier.

Yuba County District Attorney Patrick McGrath said primary manufacturing points were deserts in Southern California and the hill areas in-between Yuba and Butte County.

As those shut down, gangs saw the business opportunities to start mega-labs and applied what they had done for years with cocaine and heroin.

Horan’s team will continue to try to cut down the local supply by busting distributors, but for now, they’re dependent on agencies near production sites to confront production of supply.

That fight recently got a boost in early October, when Harris announced that the DOJ will create an anti-methamphetamine team of special agents in L.A. funded by a $1 million federal grant. The team will coordinate with other existing DOJ task forces.




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