Meth users turning to cocaine

GRAMNET officials say people view drug as a safer alternative

Law enforcement agencies and community service groups are adequately spreading the word about the ill effects of methamphetamine. So much so, that people experimenting with drugs are sometimes choosing a narcotic just as dangerous.

Cocaine.

"The interesting thing we're seeing now is, with meth getting all the bad publicity, the view is it's a safer alternative," said Dusty Schulze, task force commander of the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotic Enforcement Team. "In reality, it's just as dangerous.

"It's almost accepted. (Users) first response is 'at least I'm not doing meth.'"

An interesting statistic in GRAMNET's annual enforcement report, recently released to municipalities in Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs, was that the task force seized nearly three times as much cocaine in 2006, about 25.96 ounces, or $52,000, than it did methamphetamine, about 9 ounces, or $17,800.

Schulze said the disparity lies with a large investigation earlier this year during which GRAMNET seized about 23 ounces of cocaine. In conjunction with the Wichita, Kan., and Denver offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration, GRAMNET intercepted 1.5 pounds of cocaine en route from Florida to Boulder and Steamboat Springs.

The cocaine had a street value of about $38,000.

The task force commander said he does not believe cocaine is becoming as prevalent as methamphetamine, which plays a role in roughly 85 percent of Moffat County's criminal cases.

In other GRAMNET news, the task force announced Friday that one of its remaining fugitives has been taken into custody in Reno, Nev., after he surrendered himself to police there.

Jacob Wayne Simply, 22, formerly of Craig, was wanted on an outstanding felony warrant for distribution of methamphetamine. He was one of the suspects sought by GRAMNET from investigations in the latter half of this year.

Sampley, Schulze said, has waived extradition and will be returned to Moffat County to answer to charges.

Sampley spoke with GRAMNET officers, who advised him of his fugitive status, before turning himself in to law enforcement in Reno.

Schulze said GRAMNET will request an enhanced sentence for Sampley because he allegedly sold methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school.

Schulze said five other suspects are wanted in connection with a recent sweep of arrests.

"Since October, we've been trying to get them picked up," he said.

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