ABC 17 News is digging in to the drug problem in rural Mid-Missouri after 10 people are arrested in connection to drugs in Moniteau County.
“Meth use has always been high, especially in rural counties…it’s spiked again and now it’s as high as it’s ever been,” Sheriff Tony Wheatley told ABC 17 News.
In fact, law enforcement isn’t afraid to admit, they have trouble staying on top of the issue.
“The problem is-it’s spread so wide here in the county that we’re having a hard time keeping up with it,” Wheatley revealed.
According to the FBI, 15 to 20 percent of all arrests in the U.S. are drug related. Law enforcement officials say it’s arrests like those that are draining their resources.
“It’s not just the drug use or going and kicking the doors and doing search warrants on drug use-it’s the other crimes that come with that. All the burglaries and stolen property and assaults that occur in a county can be directly related back to drug use and it’s the same people doing it,” Wheatley said.
Detective Joe Pangburn with the Boonville Police Department echoed the same concerns.
“We could all work 24/7 and still not beat it,” he said, adding, “A lot of the drug people are frequent fliers-repeat offenders with the same thing over and over again.”
While there’s no easy answer, Sheriff Wheatley said better communication with lawmakers is a good start.
“If you get a bunch of sheriff’s together from rural counties that this is affecting and put them in a room with them, we can throw around some ideas and I think we could probably come up with a solution, but usually that doesn’t happen. And that’s the sad thing.”
In the meantime, he said his team is going to fight the illegal drug trade until they get a handle on it. He added that he’s thankful for all the help he’s received from the community.