Task force destroys guns, drugs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

Three handguns, $150,000 in pot, pills and crack cocaine, a half a dozen marijuana plants and a box of crack pipes.

It sounds like a recipe for disaster - which is what may have happened if all these items would have wound up on the streets of Lawrence County.

But that will not happen now.

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Wednesday, local law enforcement destroyed drugs and guns confiscated

in area drug arrests by various area agencies and by the Lawrence County Drug Task Force during 2003 and early 2004. And they were satisfied with the results of the combined drug effort this year.

The stash of drugs destroyed included "several pounds of marijuana, hundreds of grams of crack and several thousand pills," Ironton Police Capt. Chris Bowman said.

The guns were confiscated from drug dealers at the time of their arrests.Some of the pot plants were found in the Wayne National Forest, planted by drug dealers aiming to escape the long arm of the law by planting their crops on public lands where they thought their plants would not be found.

"Much of the pot you see here today is part of the eradication program between the sheriff's office and the National Forest service," Lawrence County Sheriff's Office Maj. Jeff Lawless said.

"We also confiscated about $8,000 in cash in 2004 that people may have had on their person when they were arrested, proceeds of drug trafficking," Lawrence County Drug Task Force officer David Marcum said.

Marcum said the drug task force spent approximately $20,000 on drug purchases during the year, money spent during undercover operations meant to sniff out dealers.

Much of the task force's work is paid for through a state grant.

"If we had more funding, we could have exceeded those 53 felony convictions if we had had more money to do it with. Not having money holds us down," Marcum said.

As for 2004, the number of arrests are on the increase. "We had 53 felony convictions this year, 58 arrests with five cases still pending,"

Bowman said.

"We're proud of our accomplishment over the last year. We do have a 100 percent conviction rate in this county on drug cases."

"It's a combined effort," Lawless said. "We're all strapped for manpower. This shows a huge effort by all the departments working together."

Officers are quick to give much of the credit to the Lawrence County Prosecutor's Office for its diligence in prosecuting these cases.

Marcum said area law enforcement officers appreciate the help of concerned citizens who have telephoned the drug tip hotline, and have reported suspected drug dealing.

"We may not be able to solve every complaint but we do check them out," he said. "We do listen."

The new drug hotline number is 534-5830.