MARTINEZ, Calif. — A California narcotics agent who has overseen hundreds of drug investigations has been jailed himself on suspicion of selling drugs.
Norman Wielsch, who headed a drug task force in Contra Costa County, was arrested Wednesday on felony counts related to the distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids, according to the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
State drug agents also arrested Christopher Butler of Concord, a private investigator accused of conspiring with Wielsch, of Antioch, to sell narcotics, officials said.
The two men, both 49, were taken into custody after a month-long investigation by the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. Wielsch has been placed on unpaid leave, said agency spokeswoman Michelle Gregory.
The agency's investigation is ongoing, but so far there is no indication that other law enforcement agents were involved, Gregory said.
"It's obviously a difficult situation for everyone involved, but certainly not reflective of our agency or our agents as a whole," Gregory said Thursday.
Wielsch, a 12-year bureau veteran, and Butler had previously worked together as police officers in Antioch, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times.
The two men are being held in Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez and are expected to be arraigned Friday.
Wielsch's attorney, Michael Cardoza, said his client is devastated and plans to "meet the allegations head-on."
"It's a very, very sad situation for all involved," Cardoza said.
Wielsch had a "stellar career up to this point, and now these allegations are being made against him," Cardoza said.
Wielsch's arrest could have an impact on criminal drug cases in Contra Costa County, lawyer Dirk Manoukian, a former county prosecutor, told the Contra Costa Times.
"Your main concern from the standpoint of a prosecutor or a defense attorney is how centrally involved was he in the fact-gathering aspect in the case," Manoukian said.
Butler's firm, Butler & Associates Private Investigations, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Separately, a report released Thursday by the U.S. Energy Department found that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory failed to properly track cocaine, amphetamines, opium and black tar heroin that undergoes forensic evidence testing and other uses.
The department's inspector general said that failure left personnel unable to determine if the drugs had been misused or misappropriated.
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