In the world of law enforcement, especially when it comes to drugs, one arrest often leads to another.
And then another.
It’s a fact that prompted the formation of the county’s Special Crimes Unit in March and one that keeps investigators extremely busy.
The unit consists of the District Attorney’s Office, Stephenville Police Department and Erath County Sheriff’s Office. In the past nine months there have been numerous cases that have resulted in 21 felony arrests.
On Tuesday, District Attorney Alan Nash, Police Chief Jason King, Sheriff Matt Coates, Lt. Don Miller, Sgt. Russell Ford and Sgt. Wesley Mabe sat down with the E-T to discuss a major recent case involving more than 2,000 grams of methamphetamine, 62 grams of heroin and three arrests.
The names of those arrested, however, will not be revealed in this story in an effort to protect other pending cases.
It all started with a routine traffic stop
It was an uneventful August day when Stephenville police officer Gary Roberts made a routine traffic stop with his K-9 unit Buky by his side.
When Buky alerted to the scent of drugs, a string of events would result in what has so far become the largest drug bust the Special Crimes Unit has made since its inception nine months ago.
“That suspect cooperated and admitted to having 42 customers in Stephenville and three suppliers in the Metroplex,” Ford said. “We worked for about three weeks with investigators in the Metroplex and as a result arrested two of Stephenville’s main suppliers of meth.”
The arrests also led to the seizure of 2,091 grams of methamphetamine, 62 grams of heroin, almost $10,000 cash and a handgun.
“To put that in perspective, a gram of meth equals about a packet of Sweet’n Low,” King said. “And 2,091 grams of meth equals about 8,300 ‘highs’ or ‘uses.’”
Nash called the case “significant.”
“A gram of meth is considered substantial,” Nash said. “One gram is a third degree felony and with this amount it’s a first degree felony offense punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison.”
Investigators say they hope to take the third supplier into custody in the near future.
A never-ending problem
The recent arrests are good news, but it’s not enough to stop or even slow down the ongoing drug problem in Erath County.
“Every time we knock one down, another comes up,” Ford said. “Most of our dealers in Stephenville are user-addicts. They are selling to support the habit they can’t afford.”
Nash says there is no such thing as a “functioning meth user” and says the grand jury docket is proof that drug use spurs other crimes.
“The vast majority of our cases are traceable to drug abuse,” Nash said.
The men all agree that they are proud of the work the Special Crimes Unit is doing and will continue to work on several other pending cases.
“This is an unprecedented unified effort between Sheriff Coates and Chief King to combat the drug trade,” Nash said. “In all of my years in law enforcement I have never seen anything like it.”
Coates says he is proud of the progress that is being made.
“I am proud of the long hours and hard work these guys put in for the betterment of our community,” Coates said. “But there is still work to do.”
If you think the Special Crimes Unit is turning a blind eye to marijuana, think again. The unit is actively working to keep marijuana out of neighborhoods and away from kids. For more on recent marijuana busts, see Saturday’s edition of the E-T.