Almost daily we have stories about drug arrests somewhere in south Georgia. While local law enforcement is often on the front lines of these busts, regional drug task forces have played a big role in taking dealers, narcotics and weapons off the street.
Unfortunately, some of these task forces are going away. At the end of the year the Altamaha Drug Task Force will disband due to funding cuts and send more than 100 open cases to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.
The federal government could only give the task force 79-thousand dollars this year, 55-percent less than last. They needed 200-thousand-dollars to survive. With 25-percent of their budget coming from local governments in Cook, Berrien, Lanier, Clinch, and Echols counties,
This comes at a time when many of those counties are seeing an increase in meth use and production. Three years ago, the Mitchell County Drug Task disbanded over budget issues.
Just recently, the Pataula Drug Task Force based in Colquitt shut down a major marijuana grow operation in Randolph County. Luckily, they’re staying afloat.
While federal funding is being slashed across the board, is it too much to ask that funding of some sort be used to keep these regional drug task forces up and running? The work they do speaks for itself but the cuts send a message to drug dealers that they’re winning a fight in the ongoing war of drugs.
Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.