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TNT annual report shows drugs a real problem in Northern Michigan

March 27, 2018, Rick Charmoli, Cadillac News

CADILLAC — If you pay attention to the community in Northern Michigan and the Cadillac area, it should come as no surprise that drugs are a big issue.

Marijuana, prescription drugs, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine all have a footprint in the area. Some, however, are more prevalent than others. For 35 years, the Traverse Narcotics Team has been on the frontlines of trying to get illegal drugs off the streets of the greater Cadillac area and its surrounding counties.

TNT is a multijurisdictional task force governed under an Inter-Local Agreement between the counties of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Missaukee, Osceola, Wexford and the Michigan State Police.

Recently, TNT released its annual report for 2017 and what it showed was troubling but not at all surprising.

The annual TNT report includes both narrative and statistical data for review. It also highlights some of TNT’s accomplishments during any given year. During the past year, TNT investigated a total of 313 cases with 210 arrests.

During 2017, TNT reported more fentanyl in the counties of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford, which means there will be an increased need for Level A responses. Level A responses involve high risk, dangerous and/or unknown powders and liquids such as fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication with a rapid onset and short duration of action. Although fentanyl has medical uses when produced on the black market for the drug trade, fentanyl analogues may be hundreds of times more potent than street heroin, making it much more dangerous than heroin to users. Fentanyl can be used orally, smoked, snorted, or injected. It often leads to overdoses of unsuspecting users.

Currently, TNT only has four Level A responders available within its district and two of those responders are TNT members.

In addition to drug response, TNT also provides assistance to other agencies in the form of equipment or personnel in situations such as fugitive/parole violator arrests or drug overdose cases.

During the last quarter of 2017, TNT reported a decrease in methamphetamine labs and dump sites but saw an increase in crystal meth being brought into the region. Most of the crystal meth found in the U.S. is made in “superlabs‘ in the U.S. and Mexico, according to the National Institute of Drug
Abuse. That differs from the one-pot method, which often involves users making small batches from locally gathered ingredients.

Heroin and/or fentanyl overdose also have increased during recent months.

TNT investigated a total of 313 cases with 210 arrests, and of those 210 suspects arrested, there were 427 charges brought against them. A majority of those charges, 159, were brought against suspects in Wexford County, followed by Grand Traverse with 105.

Read more here.