ACET activity results in 15 arrests, $40K in seizures
Craig Police Chief updates city council on drug task force operations
September 15, 2011
At a glance:
• All Crimes Enforcement Team submits report on task force activity.
• Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta briefed the Craig City Council on Tuesday night about the report.
• Task force activity included 15 arrests for drug possession and distribution, along with seizing more than $40,000 in illegal narcotics.
• Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins to detail deputy to the task force later this month.
The All Crimes Enforcement Team, an area drug task force, has arrested 15 people suspected of narcotics violations this year, resulting in the seizure of more than $40,000 in illegal drugs.
ACET investigates narcotics in Moffat and Routt counties. The task force includes one officer each from the Craig and Steamboat Springs police departments and a deputy from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office.
Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta reported on the task force's activity to the Craig City Council on Tuesday night.
ACET Commander Marvin Cameron, who was detailed to the task force from the Craig Police Department, compiled the report Vanatta delivered to the city council.
According to Cameron's report, 11 of the 15 arrests resulted from investigations this year and four suspects were apprehended from investigations that began last year.
Four suspects were arrested for cocaine distribution; six for methamphetamine distribution; two for prescription drug fraud; and one each for possession of methamphetamine, distribution of marijuana and a psilocybin mushroom grow operation.
The task force, according to the report, seized 346 grams of cocaine (estimated value of $39,466), 10.5 grams of methamphetamine ($1,251), and three grams of marijuana ($50).
The drugs have a combined street value of $40,767, ACET reported.
While speaking to the city council, Vanatta commended ACET for its work. He said the price of narcotics in the Yampa Valley is twice as high as other areas around the state thanks to ACET's aggressive pursuit of distributors.
"Some of the good news that has come out of the task force is the price of drugs has gone way up in Moffat County," Vanatta said. "The task force has a reputation and people are afraid of getting busted."
ACET dismantled two significant drug trafficking operations this year, Vanatta said.
One took place in Steamboat Springs and entailed two people being arrested and charged with cocaine distribution.
According to the ACET report, the task force was successful in seizing 340 grams of cocaine and $15,560 in cash.
By estimating the average street value of cocaine at $114 per gram, ACET reported the cocaine seized was worth $38,760.
The other investigation Vanatta highlighted involved ACET shutting down an alleged methamphetamine lab in January in Hayden.
Four people were arrested in connection with the alleged lab.
One suspect was sentenced to five years in Correctional Alternative Placement Services in Craig. The other three suspects are going through the judicial process.
According to the report, it's difficult to know exactly how much alleged meth was being produced, but task force investigators reported the four suspects were cooking two to three ounces of the drug per week for one customer.
With an estimated street value of $1,600 per ounce, ACET believes the alleged Hayden meth lab was generating a profit of $3,200 to $4,800 per week.
"The methamphetamine lab was a substantial source of methamphetamine to our communities," the ACET report stated.
In addition to its own narcotics investigations, ACET reported it assisted the Routt County Sheriff's Office with two large-scale home burglaries.
"They were successful in recovering more than $250,000 in stolen property as a result of those burglaries," Vanatta said.
In the past, ACET has been a four-person operation. However, the Routt County Sheriff's Office withdrew its involvement in 2007.
Vanatta told the city council Tuesday night Routt County would again contribute a deputy to ACET. The deputy should be on board later this month, the police chief said.
"Routt County knows who they are going to send to join the task force," Vanatta said. "They are waiting to get back up to patrol staff before they do that."
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins served as ACET commander from 2007 until he was elected sheriff in November 2010.
He said Routt County's decision to withdraw from the task force stemmed from a riff between he and former sheriff Gary Wall, who Wiggins later defeated to become sheriff.
"He more or less was trying to stick it to me," Wiggins said. "This is certainly a policy change in regards to how he used to run things."
In 2007, Wall said he withdrew his agency's participation from ACET — then known as the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team — because he didn't believe the task force produced results justifying the $115,000 contribution from the sheriff's office.
Wiggins said the deputy he is detailing to ACET was sent to narcotics school Sept. 12. He will be integrated into the task force upon completion of the class.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com.