While there was a big dust up spread on the internet over the drugs for ski passes sting in Mammoth, that controversial plan that led to six arrests is just one of many operations run by the Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team.
Agent Paul Robles sent Sierra Wave an overview of MONET actions from last year that give a glimpse into what this law enforcement group does.
In 2008, MONET agents ran 199 investigations that led to 202 arrests in Mammoth and Mono County. Over the course of the year, officers seized 1 pound of crystal methamphetamine through street level buys and search warrants. MONET also seized over a pound of cocaine, 4 oz. of psilocybin mushrooms, 125 pharmaceutical drug doses, ecstasy tablets, and 6 firearms.
National trends described by the U.S. Department of Justice, show that availability of methamphetamine is steady and on the rise while cocaine availability is dropping.
That appears to line up with what narcotic agents see in Mono County. Agent Robles says that MONET is seeing a decline in cocaine sales and a significant increase in methamphetamine sales and usage. During the investigations, offciers discovered that there is a link in Mono County with a large organized group from Fresno, Ca. that is transporting and selling methamphetamine and cocaine in the Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County.
By reading the comments on our website, many dont consider marijuana in the same light as hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. The MONET numbers for 2008 show that marijuana is by far the most seized drug in Mono County, especially when the large outdoor farms are considered.
MONET agents seized 22 pounds of processed marijuana bud in 2008. This number does not include the small quantities seized routinely by the Mammoth Police.
The national trend toward large outdoor marijuana farms run by drug trafficking organizations out of Mexico has come to the Eastern Sierra in recent years. In addition to the marijuana ready for sale, MONET joined Esmerelda County to eradicate 24,000 plants in the White Mountains.
Another operation in the Glass Mountains east of Mammoth found 4600 mature plants, some ten feet tall. One young man was arrested. The 18 year old was not a legal resident of the United States and had already been deported to Mexico in 2005. The suspect was linked to the Esmerelda County grow and to an organization currently under investgation by the Forest Service.
With demand for narcotics ever present, there is a lot of money to be made. The Department of Justice reports that Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking organizations generate, remove, and launder between $18 billion and $39 billion in wholesale drug proceeds annually.
MONET agents believe that through their work, they have impacted street level and mid-level drug dealers, but perhaps because of the demand and the money to be made, Robles reports, there always seem to be replacements.