061421_DRUGS_NP_ARTICLE (copy)

Buchanan County Drug Strike Force Capt. Shawn Collie displays two bags of methamphetamine in a June photo, indicating the difference between a pound of meth, right, and a ‘dime bag,’ or 3.5 grams. The strike force confiscated 28.3 pounds of meth in 2021, and the drug’s popularity is only increasing, Collie said.

The Buchanan County Drug Strike Force seized 28.3 pounds of methamphetamine and 463.71 grams of heroin in 2021, part of a larger trend of both drugs increasing in popularity.

It’s just one example of the strike force’s need to keep evolving, Capt. Shawn Collie said.

“It has been more long-term investigations than we’ve seen,” he said. “That’s where, like for the meth, that’s why it went so high because we had a long-term investigation where we eventually went to arrest the guy and we ended up with (about 14 pounds) of meth in one setting.”

The accessibility of illicit substances is leading the strike force to adopt new practices, particularly when it comes to dealing with technology, Collie said.

“We’re seeing more people, maybe, coming up with new drugs ... even from other continents,” he said. “They’re able to easily access those types of drugs, unfortunately. The other thing we were seeing, and more so maybe toward some of the bigger cities, was we were seeing trends where robberies or even homicides were up based on social media. People showing off money or drugs, basically letting other criminals know.”

Fighting those factors hinges on educating the community, particularly younger residents. They need to be taught not to trust social media when it comes to experimenting with drugs or posting about personal details since someone on the other end can be taking advantage, Collie said.

The strike force also took in 5,518 pills worth of controlled substances, with many often being laced with fentanyl.

The strike force does not have a category specific to the amount of fentanyl confiscated but that might have to change soon, Collie said.

“We’re seeing so many overdoses related specifically to fentanyl that we’re probably going to have to adjust our stats to start tracking fentanyl, or other drugs that are laced with fentanyl, to try to come up with that,” he said.

Of the pills taken in during 2021, more than half were believed to contain fentanyl, Collie said.

Dealing with meth, heroin and fentanyl also necessitate a change in strategy because their effects on behavior can be extreme and dangerous, Collie said.

“The arrest warrants, the search warrants, everything we do we kind of have to adapt it to a new type of culture and a new type of drug that we’re dealing with,” he said. “Not only for officer safety but for community safety and the safety of the suspect.”

There also is increased emphasis on being more than mere enforcers. It’s important for the strike force to work with the community and addiction service centers to assist with addicts’ recovery efforts, Collie said.

Alex Simone can be reached at alex.simone@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter at @np_simone.

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