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May 2, 1997     Cape Gazette
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May 2, 1997

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Drugs Continued from page 1 courtrooms to tell judges why they were caught with drugs, and as prisons reach or exceed capaci- ty because of the high number of people convicted on drug charges, Delaware strengthens its resolve to thwart the illegal drug market. The drug trade is operated like any business, with entry level po- sitions, managers, supervisors and technicians, said Capt. Ray Han- cock, com- manding offi- cer of the Delaware State Police Special In- vestigations and Tactical UniL "It's like any other HANCOCK business in America, except it's more effi- cient," said Hancock. It has no advertising expenses, does not need to put its products on sale in order to sell them, and the prod- ucts are always in demand. "Unlike other businesses, how- ever, the competition will try to kill you," said Hancock. Compe- tition is fierce, and it results in an increased crime rate. Theft, pros- titution, assaults and homicides often bear the markings of drugs. What is important for people to understand, said Hancock, is "there is no such thing as a local drug problem." All drugs, he said, either came from smnewhere else or are going somewhere else. Therefore, said Hancock, know- ing what trends are developing throughout the country help law enforcement agents prepare them- selves for the problems that they will face as the trends reach their bk.yards. Which drug is trendy? "Drug trends don't explode and happen nationally," he said. "They travel. If it's happening out West, it's coming east." What is now moving east across the na- tion, said Hancock, is metham- phetamine, sometimes referred to as "moth." Last fall, Hancock attended a conference sponsored by the Na- tional Association of State Drug Enforcement Agencies. He learned that what is on the hori- zon, and what lias been dubbed a problem of epidemic proportion in western states - especially Iowa - is an increase in production and use of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a drug that impacts the nervous system. The synthetic drug, usually manufac- tured domestically, was popularly ;known as "speed" during the 1960s. Changes in how the drug is manufactured, and law enforce- ment success at reducing the amount of cocaine importedin the United States, has added to the drug's resurgence. According to Hancock, cocaine and heroin, although popular file- gal drugs, cannot be pruced do- mestiy. As aresug drag Uaf- tickers are challenged to move the products into the country. If the drugs pass the country's borders at all, there is often an additional handling cost - bribe money. In essence, trafficking heroin and co- caine is less efficient than traffick- ing methamphetamine. "Methamphetamine can be pro- duced anywhere in America, and it's also produced heavily in Mex- ico," said Hancock. The new process for manufacturing it, he said, "is faster, easier, cleaner, cheaper and much more odor free." The result is that the drug is rapidly gaining popularity. Methamphetamine brings with it two serious social problems - cost to taxpayers and increased crime rates. The financial burden of the synthetic drug market, to citizens, is staggering, said Han- cock. For example, when law enforce- ment agents discover a metham- phetamine or other drug lab, shut- ting it down and cleaning it up is extremely costly. The establish- ment must be treated as a haz- ardous site, so in addition to the regular costs are those associated with the Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Other costs include increased law enforcement staWmg, state ab- sorption of those costs associated with prosecuting and incarcerat- ing convicted drug offenders, in- surance claims for those assaulted or stolen from, etc. Some studies conducted in the West, where methamphetamine seems to have gained the most popularity, indicate there is also an increase in domestic violence rates, said Hancock. Domestic vi- olence impacts medical care costs, which in turn impact the public. Which drugs are here? State police have identified the county and state drug markets. "Upstate is powder cocaine and very, very little crack. Converse- ly, downstate is almost all crack cocaine and very tittle powder," said Hancock. "Marijuana is a storewide drug. Recently we've seen an increase in it. Either the Delaware State Police is better at finding it, or there's more out there_maybe it's a little of both," he said. Some people don't take mari- juana dealing very seriously, he said, "but it is serious. There's a serious amount of drugs and a se- rious amount of money, and the mindset we see for cocaine ap- plies to marijuana. "Heroin is something to be very concerned about," said Hancock. The purity of the drug is up, so it's very potent. "Eighty percent pure on the street is not unusual," said Hancock. Another reason heroin is a con- cern, he said, is that it carries a price favorable for consumers. The drug is, however, presently most popular in urban, rather than rural areas. Hancock said that as recently as 8 to 10 months ago, there was an outbreak of PCP (phencyclidine hydrochloride) in northern Delaware. "I think we knocked out that whole operation," said Hancock. How are drugs marketed? Delaware is particularly suscep- tible to drug trafficking because of its geographical location. Several large cities known as prime sources for narcotics, are only a short drive from any point in Delaware. New York City is just a few hours north, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia flank the northwest, and Delaware falls in the middle of a North-South drug thorough- fare. It also has Route 13, Inter- state 95, an ocean, a railroad and airports - all the necessary fea- tures for easy access and distribu- tion methods. State police are particularly careful to take note of unusual ac- tivities on the heavily trafficked CAPE GAZE'IWE, Friday, May 2- May 8, 1997 - 15 north-south roadways. For exam- parts of the country, we can be ple, said Hancock, New York prepared," he said. Increased law serves as a drug distribution cen- enforcement training has been ter, so traffickers often will travel useful in fighting the drug war. through Delaware in route from it Hancock, who published "The or other East Coast distribution 1o- Delaware State Police Four Prong cations to move their products Drug Asset Seizure Plan" in a south. 1993 U.S. Department of Justice Also, dealers will travel north publication, outlined how from states south or southwest of Delaware had become so success- Delaware to get to one of the dis- ful at seizing assets from convict- tribution cities. The result is that ed drug marketeers. traffickers willsometimes be ar- The plan's four components, rested with very large amounts of said Hancock, are very simple. cash, or even some drugs as they Arresting officers simply must as- travel through the state, sure they meet the following crite- Unfortunately, the result is that ria: the amount of money is exces- Delaware resources are often sive under the circumstances; spent on incarcerating offenders there is no reasonable explanation from other states, as to the source of the money; the What can ponce do? money is tainted with narcotic "By knowing trends in other Continued on page 17 BLIICI  7.997 LeSabre's orthopedically sensitive seating may be the most comfortable seats ever built. Purposeful luxury, generous comfort, outstanding premium value and solid reputatioMor quality and dependability have made LeSabre what it is... 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