EDITORIAL: Drug crackdown

By NEMS Daily Journal

Summer’s approach and its usual surge in outdoor activities also opens the high season for illegal drug transactions in Northeast Mississippi, and enforcement units place themselves on higher alert for faster response.
Staff Writer Danza Johnson’s article in Monday’s Daily Journal highlighted heightened awareness and more diligence in foiling streetside and curb deals – a surge that comes when dealers leave their indoor haunts for what they see as easy pickings on the streets.
The North Mississippi Narcotics unit, including undercover agents, will follow the illegal action in Tupelo and surrounding counties and communities.
Residents of neighborhoods with illegal drug problems report eyewitness accounts of illegal drug activity in the warm weather months. Like the law-abiding eyewitnesses, at least some of the drug dealers may be on the street to stay out of sweltering apartments or residences where air-conditioning is turned off to save on energy bills. The heat, however, is secondary to profit from illegal sales.
The North Mississippi Narcotics Unit (NMNU) plays a key, stepped-up role in heightened enforcement.
The multi-jurisdictional unit is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the criminal laws of Mississippi regarding controlled substances. The Tupelo Police Department is the host agency for NMNU, and its assigned commander is responsible for the day-to-day operations.
NMNU consists of the police departments in Tupelo, Booneville, Fulton, Pontotoc, Okolona, and Amory, and the sheriff’s departments in Lee, Prentiss, Monroe, Pontotoc, Itawamba, and Chickasaw counties. Hundreds of officers are involved, using a widespread net of informants and undercover operators.
Other, similar narcotics units and task forces operate in other regions of Mississippi with the same goals but adapting methods to particular needs in each of the regions.
The north Mississippi unit also works in tandem with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal agency with nationwide jurisdiction and resources.
NMNU conducted more than 750 felony drug investigations in 2008, which included street, middle, and high-level drug dealers and organizations. The thousands of dollars confiscated are invested in drug law enforcement.
Administration of the regional law enforcement units has had ups and downs through the years, but across-the-board cooperation seems to have become the operating standard.
Mississippi has unique, serious illegal drug issues. We don’t stand in isolation from the rest of the nation, and we are battling it out with criminals. The summer push offers citizens a chance to watch and report suspicious activity.
Go to http://www.ago.state.ms.us/index.php/content/opinions/37 for more information.