Sheriff seeks grants for drug, gang efforts |

Sheriff seeks grants for drug, gang efforts

Nick Coltrain

This year, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office is asking for more than $400,000 in federal cash to pay for positions and activities for its regional gang initiative and its portion of costs for the Tri-Net Narcotics Task Force. Both are grants it has received in past years. In the case of the Tri-Net grant, it has been received for more than 20 years.

“One of the worst things that could happen today is for one of these grants not to go through,” Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said. “We’d have no other choice but to lay people off,” either in the units or elsewhere to free up cash.

The Tri-Net grant alone would pay for two detectives in the task force, which is dedicated to taking down drug traffickers. The anti-gang grant would pay for a deputy in Carson City and Lyon and Douglas counties and a support specialist.

“All three counties and probably the state would have trouble funding these positions (if it weren’t for the grants),” Furlong said.

He encouraged people to lend their support for the effort both locally and through their elected representatives to ensure that the decision makers 3,000 miles away lean Carson City’s way.

Sgt. Mitch Pier, the supervisor for the Tri-Net task force, highlighted some of the major grabs his unit has made in recent months. The most recent was the bust of four alleged cocaine traffickers in Stateline. More than half a pound of cocaine was seized and four men from Santa Cruz, Calif., were arrested on felony charges. But the March arrest also took time.

“It often takes months of investigations, much more than your typical buy-bust,” he said.

Getting to the ring leaders can require surveillance and four or five controlled buys of the drugs, and getting above the street-level dealers means buying larger quantities of drugs, he said, and an ounce of methamphetamine can go for $1,600. The grant application also asks for $7,500 to make these buys.

Pier described their efforts as “kind of trying to cut the head off the snake.” He and Furlong noted that Carson City sits near major highways that are as vital for drug traffickers as they are for the trucking industry.

Furlong said the grants emphasize community involvement and education as much as enforcement actions.

The grant application for the regional gang initiative states community involvement will “enhance a climate of zero tolerance for gang activity.”

The Tri-Net grant likewise makes education a key component: It sets a goal of attending at least 36 departmental, community and Partnership Carson City meetings and more to increase awareness and share information about drug trends and related crimes.