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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

June 29, 2004
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Texas Police Begin Initiative With Feds: Launch Program To Fight Growing Meth Problem

By Mira Oberman, The Dallas Morning News

Sherman, Texas -- With two colleges and with a major interstate coming through town, police in Denton say they have more than their share of methamphetamine problems.

Not only are there clandestine meth labs popping up all over town, but police also have to deal with drug dealers driving up Interstate 35 from Mexico.

That's why Capt. Lee Howell says he welcomes a new initiative launched Monday by the U.S. attorney's office to combat the growing problem.

"It provides a lot of concentrated manpower you wouldn't be able to do yourself and the ability to get large groups of people into the federal system," he said.

Capt. Howell was one of a number of local and state law enforcement officers attending a news conference to announce the Operation MethBusters initiative.

The program will coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement officers to pursue federal drug conspiracy charges against major dealers in East Texas. Federal charges often result in longer prison terms and more stringent requirements for posting bail.

"A small percentage of the offenders commit the largest number of crimes," said U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Orwig of the Eastern District of Texas, which includes Sherman.

Task forces will target not only major dealers and producers but also store personnel who violate laws regulating the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, commonly used in cold medications but also a key ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine. There will also be a public information campaign.

"The drugs today are stronger, the users are younger and the dealers are more dangerous," Mr. Orwig said. "It's a problem we need to get out in front of."

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