Tackling meth will be 2011 focus for narcotics unit

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Despite a funding cut for the 2011 fiscal year, the Northeast Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics isn’t expecting service or enforcement to go down.
For fiscal year 2011, which began Oct. 1, the agency received $342,629 from a grant from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
The amount is 22 percent, or $97,006, less than the $439,635 in fiscal year 2010.
Capt. Marvis Bostick, commander of the 13-agency unit, said a hefty reserve of forfeitures will soften the blow from the grant decrease and allow the unit to continue to operate at full capacity and at no cost to its members.
Aside from the annual grant, the Northeast Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics is operated by money and merchandise forfeited during drug convictions. All money and merchandise seized during drug arrests can be used only in the fight against drugs.
“We’re still going to be able to do everything we’ve been able to do over the years,” said Bostick. “We’ve anticipated that one day grant money may decrease and we built up a good reserve because of that. The unit still will provide the same services to our members at no cost to them.”
Task force members include sheriff’s departments in the counties of Lee, Chickasaw, Monroe, Itawamba, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tishomingo. Police departments of Tupelo, Amory, Pontotoc, Baldwyn, Booneville, Fulton and Okolona are also members. Members of the task force have to provide only manpower.
In their fight against drugs, narcotics agents are expecting crystal meth to remain a point of focus for 2011.
Bostick said a lot of progress was made in 2010, but some changes in the law are going to cause some alterations in enforcement tactics.
A Mississippi law making pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in cooking meth, available only by prescription took effect July 1. It has caused a seeming decrease in the number of meth cases agents worked.
But Bostick said he expects those numbers to go back up during the 2011 fiscal year because manufacturers will find new ways to produce meth.
In 2010, the unit took down 89 meth labs, as opposed to 78 in 2009.
“Meth was such a draw this past year that it took away from the time we used to work other drug cases,” said Bostick. “This year I think numbers are going to unfortunately increase instead of the slight decrease we saw after the law because of some of the new approaches we are taking to catch the people cooking it.”
The chess match between meth cookers and law enforcement is never-ending.
“When the law changes, they adapt,” he said of the meth manufacturers. “So we have to change our approach as well.”
Cases dealing with the other major drugs, cocaine, crack and marijuana, have stayed virtually the same over the past few years. But he did say that prescription drug cases did see a slight increase in 2010.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.