Local Narcotics Agents Fight Drugs and State Budget

The narcotics task forces of Inyo and Mono have a mission this year – focus on cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana plus struggle to keep state money to operate.

Inyo Narcotics Enforcement Team commander, Inyo Sheriff’s Sergeant Jeff Hollowell said this year the task force will maintain the same focus on meth and cocaine. He said cocaine use has actually returned and is the same price as methamphetamine. Agents will also focus on marijuana gardens in the Sierra and elsewhere.

Last year, a hiker stumbled on a big marijuana farm and officers found several others. It turned into a big, multi-agency operation to shut down the farms.

Hollowell said INET puts in flight time to check out the mountains.

Mono Narcotics Enforcement Team, or MONET, will work on enforcement against marijuana on public lands. They also rely on state level grants and others to do this work. Mono Sheriff’s Lieutenant Rob Weber said the task force will work on marijuana farm location as well as focus on marijuana, cocaine and meth. Lt. Weber also pointed to a comeback of cocaine. He said this might be affected by the tougher regulation on psuedephedrine which is used to manufacture meth. “It’s easier to get cocaine,” he said.

Both task forces fear big state budget cuts for their grants. Sgt. Hollowell said he has heard of potentially 10% cuts to something much bigger. Lt. Weber has heard the same thing. Law enforcement and county lobbyists are at work to prevent catastrophic cuts.

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