ACET report: Teen drug use increasing |

ACET report: Teen drug use increasing

Joshua Roberts

— A “disturbing” trend the All Crimes Enforcement Team has seen throughout 2008 is an increase in illegal drug use – and in some cases, drug distribution – by teens in Moffat and Routt counties.

ACET, an area drug task force, reported the trend in a year-end news release Thursday.

“Some of the information we are receiving through our investigations and from other sources indicate that children as young as middle-school age are using and distributing illegal narcotics,” ACET commander Garrett Wiggins wrote in the release. “This is a problem not just for law enforcement, but for our entire community.

“We must all work together (law enforcement, schools, parents and the medical profession) to identify why this is happening and find innovative ways to deal with this problem before it gets completely out of control.”

When reached Friday, Wiggins stood by ACET’s assessment of an increase in teen drug activity.

His words were not for shock value, he said.

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“It’s a certainty,” he said. “We’re seeing a large increase at the high-school level, and activity at the middle-school level, as well,” the task force commander said, adding that investigations and sources have revealed teens in both counties selling drugs such as high-grade marijuana, Ecstasy and benzylpiperazine.

“Just about anything you want to buy from kids, you can buy,” he said.

Although ACET doesn’t condone teen distribution, Wiggins said it isn’t necessarily juveniles that the task force is after in 2009. Follow the transactions far enough, he said, and you’ll find an adult involved.

“We want to stop kids from using this crap and find the adults supplying them,” Wiggins said.

He said ACET needs help from parents to make it happen.

“The cooperation from parents, for one,” he said. “And the insistence that their kids cooperate (with us) so we can find the root of this problem.”

Overall, ACET’s three members conducted 34 investigations in 2008, all but six of which were related to drug distribution.

The task force seized quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, Ecstasy, marijuana, benzylpiperazine and various types of pharmaceutical drugs throughout the year. Wiggins estimated the drugs had a low-end street value of about $80,000.

Four of the 34 investigations were crimes committed by suspects, according to the report. Those cases were for identity theft, sexual assault and intimidating a witness.

Two other investigations centered on a “string of burglaries” of 10 residences in Craig and Steamboat Springs.

All told, the task force made 37 arrests stemming from investigations in 2008, with another 19 pending. It also reported a 97 percent conviction rate for suspects arrested and charged through task force investigations.

ACET also assisted other agencies with investigations into homicide, suicide, sexual assault and other crimes.

Wiggins said he was satisfied with his team’s performance this year.

“I’m extremely pleased,” he said. “If we can just maintain this level of success : we’ll have made a huge impact.”

Wiggins reiterated what ACET has said numerous times throughout the year – that it takes a united effort to battle illegal drugs.

“We encourage everyone to report suspicious and strange behavior or activity to your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible as it takes all of us working together to keep our communities safe and drug free,” he wrote in the release.

For more

ACET reminds the public that it offers free training and mini-seminars to private and public groups interested in identifying the dangers related to drug activity. For more information, call ACET at 276-2075.