OREGON COUNTY -- Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward announced last week that the South Central Drug Task Force has been awarded $204,872 to help fight the war against methamphetamine in the nine county Troop G area, excluding Carter, Reynolds and Shannon Counties.
Ward has served on the task force board of directors since its inception in 1998.
He said the money is part of a $5.5 million grant awarded to law enforcement agencies across the state to combat meth and eliminate dangerous drugs and lab operations. The funds come from anti-meth legislation signed by the governor in 2005.
Ward said the grant is the primary source of funds for task force operations and is needed to help cover all expenses for hired and assigned personnel on the task force.
Jason Weisacosky is the South Central Drug Task Force coordinator and has served in that position since 2004. He said he applies for the grant every year and without the grant there would be no drug task force. "Counties and cities within Troop G also contribute to our task force fund," he said.
"The grant alone makes up about 67 percent of the task force budget," he said.
Weisacosky supplied some statistics regarding South Central Drug Task Force activities.
"In 2006 we did a total of 303 investigations in our area. There were 58 undercover drug purchases, 27 search warrant investigations and 22 consent searches," he said.
There were a total of 136 drug arrests by drug task force officers. "There were 30 arrests for marijuana, 66 arrests for meth, seven arrests for cocaine, one arrest for heroin and 29 arrests for prescription drugs," he said.
A total of 32 firearms were seized in 2006 dealing with drug related arrests in the task force area.
Weisacosky said in 2007 there were a total of 397 drug investigations by the task force in the nine county area.
"There were 103 undercover drug purchases, 28 search warrant investigations, and 45 consent searches," he said. He said there were 146 drug arrests in the drug task force area in 2007.
"There were 146 marijuana arrests, 75 meth arrests, seven cocaine arrests and eight prescription arrests," Weisacosky said.
A total of 49 firearms were seized during drug arrests in 2007.
He said the South Central Drug Task Force is a very important part of law enforcement in southern Missouri.
"Back before we had the drug task force, I was an officer for the highway patrol. When we would make a meth lab bust we would have to call the Drug Enforcement Agency from Oklahoma City and it might take 10 hours for them to get here and cost us $10,000," he said.
He said as bad as the 2006 and 2007 drug bust numbers sound, they are down considerably from when the task force was first formed.