Staying connected in fight against drugs
by Jim Ruth, Bradley County Sheriff
Apr 27, 2014 | 591 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The assistant director of Tennessee’s HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) crime-fighting organization announced through the newspaper last week that the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office meets the criteria to become a member of that association. This is much more significant than first meets the eye.

For many years, Interstate 75 has been a pipeline from Florida and Texas to all points north. A couple of decades back, there were so many dope-carrying cars from Texas that Tennessee lawmen joked that cars with a Texas license plate would probably be stopped three or four times between Memphis and Knoxville! A lot of arrests were made of people who were hauling Mexican dope. Millions of dollars were confiscated along with the drugs.

The wholesale dope dealer has had to change his tactics. He no longer carries large sums of money in his car with the dope. Instead, they wire large sums for these illegal drug buys.

Consequently, local, county and state law enforcement personnel are no longer able to confiscate these illegal monies that would normally go to law enforcement equipment and salaries. We are forced to develop new ways to fund drug enforcement. But that’s the way it goes: The bad guys get smarter and find new ways to beat law enforcement, so law enforcement has to adapt to their new ways and act accordingly.

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office already works closely with federal law enforcement agencies. Each of these affiliations has enhanced our ability locally to fight crime. Also through these associations, we have better access to the federal courts to prosecute the more serious drug crimes.

The command staff at the Sheriff’s Office hosts an informal breakfast each quarter for all area federal, state, county and city law enforcement. This is an opportunity to exchange information and discuss cases of mutual interest. We started these meetings over three years ago. They are very beneficial to Bradley County and the other participants as well.

Another problem with confiscation of automobiles, equipment and other assets that are ill-gotten by the drug dealer is that the courts allow the drug dealer to pay his lawyer, instead of forfeiting to law enforcement as in times past. It appears there is a move afoot to loosen the laws of forfeiture to favor both the drug dealer and the defense lawyer. Stay tuned and I will try to keep you apprised of the developing story.

I am all for our rights to privacy from illegal search and seizure. I am a strong advocate for all of our constitutional rights and I am still willing to stand and fight for them. On the flip side of the coin, there are those who work for more rights for the criminals and wrong-doers, to the detriment of your rights and mine.

That is why law enforcement people sound the alarm when laws are being presented that hobble our efforts to keep the public at large safe.

We are glad that HIDTA has joined the BCSO’s fight in the war on drugs. Geographically, Bradley County is in a unique position to be a part of this interdiction effort because of our proximity to Knoxville, Chattanooga, Dalton, Ga., and Atlanta.

Thanks for reading.