Tri-Net wraps up methamphetamine bust

Local and federal law enforcement officers patted themselves on the back Thursday as they wrapped up a three-month investigation that netted $200,000 in drugs and 34 arrests.

Tri-Net Narcotics Task Force and Drug Enforcement Agents showed off part of the more than 10 pounds of plastic-wrapped methamphetamine in a conference room at their headquarters.

Tri-Net, which includes agents from four county sheriff's departments, was joined by DEA agents from the Los Angeles Mobile Enforcement Team (LA MET) during the investigation.

"We went after the dealers themselves and only a few runners," said Tri-Net Lt. Steve Albertsen. "Our goal is to get as much drugs off the street as we can."

In three months, the joint investigation netted almost 11 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 2 pounds of marijuana and about 4 ounces of cocaine.

Special Agent Mike Braun, who heads the Los Angeles DEA field office, said local law enforcement agencies can request federal assistance and that DEA has performed 22 similar operations since 1995.

"In a smaller community like this, sometimes you need fresh faces," Braun said.

Braun also said the DEA has found that cracking down on drug-related offenses reduces the number of other crimes.

"What we've seen is a 15 percent decrease in homicides, a 14 percent decrease in aggravated assaults and the statistics are even larger for non-violent crimes," he said. DEA officials examine statistics every six months.

David Hosmer, deputy chief of NDI, said the agency hopes the busts will cut other criminal activity in the Carson area.

"We'll see what kind of impact this has and whether it's long-term," he said. "But for sure, this has been a very productive deployment."

Albertsen said the latest wave of methamphetamine seizures focused on some problem areas in Carson City.

"One of the areas we've been having trouble with the most is Tiger Drive," he said. "It's U-shaped with trailers on both sides, which makes surveillance difficult."

Albertsen said undercover agents are conspicuous because of the layout of the street.

Although he says drug activity is more prevalent in the east side near Menlo Drive, the busts in this case were geographically spread out, including a few in Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties.

Local law enforcement officials believe the drugs seized in the last three months came from outside of the area, although they concede that methamphetamine is produced locally. No "meth labs" were found during the investigation.

Methamphetamine use can permanently deteriorate physical and psychological health, said Dr. John Chappel, a drug addiction specialist.

Chappel, a psychiatrist who practices at the University of Nevada medical school, treats drug addicts daily. At first, he said, the drug can make a person more alert and aware.

"But eventually it can wear a person out and they can eventually become psychotic," he said. "I've known some people who never went back."

Chappel said methamphetamine triggers a "fight or flight" instinct that stays intact as long as the person is high.

After long-term use, the user's ability to make judgments is impaired and that combines with the fight or flight instinct, which can lead to behavior problems, Chappel said.

He added that intravenous users face the additional danger of contracting hepatitis or HIV.


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