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Southern Oregon County Reforming Drug Team

3.20.16– Associated Press

Klamath County officials in southern Oregon are reviving a drug investigation team due to the rise of methamphetamine, heroin and other drugs.

Lt. Jason Westfall of the Oregon State Police says drug traffickers are using U.S. Highway 97 as a corridor.

“It is absolutely crucial to have a drug team in Klamath County,” he said.

Officials said the Basin Interagency Narcotic Enforcement Team will be up and running in early April, the Herald and News reported.

A previous drug team that officials say had an impact on drug trafficking disbanded in 2008 due to budget cutbacks.

Officials say organized crime took over meth distribution in the area after the collapse of the home-grown meth industry when Oregon placed restrictions on chemicals needed to make the drug.

“It is a problem in all of Klamath County,” Westfall said. “I don’t think there is a specific neighborhood that shines or stands out as the problem area. It is a problem in every neighborhood; it is a problem in every community in the county.”

Klamath Falls Police Chief Dave Henslee said agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration will work with the county drug team.

“They now have office space within the Klamath Falls Police Department,” said Henslee, “and they are going to dedicate agents from the federal level to work over here in Klamath Falls a couple days a week as well to assist the team.”

The Klamath County District Attorney’s Office and Klamath County Community Corrections are also expected to dedicate staff members at least part-time to the new drug team.

“For those people that are making their living dealing drugs, there’s going to be a very large accountability factor where they may end up going to the institution,” said Kiki Parker-Rose, director of community corrections.

Drug-related crimes such as theft could go down with the new drug team in place.

“The ultimate goal of that team is to not just impact narcotics activity but it’s to impact theft, burglaries and every other crime that goes with that because they are connected,” Westfall said. “So an overall reduction in those types of activities is what we’re after in time. But it’s going to take time and the dedication of the team to get there.”

Read more here.