Illegal drug usage and drug trafficking is an ongoing problem in our communities. As I feel we are on the lower end of the spectrum compared to other counties, doesn't mean we should take a blind eye to it.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I provide you with updates on drug enforcement inside Lake County.

PROACTIVE ENFORCEMENT

In an effort to increase our activity to get illegal drugs off the streets as well as targeting those who are selling them, I initiated my "SHO-NUFF" drug initiative "Strike Hard On Narcotics Under Full Force" in September 2020.

For the record, the "sho-nuff" reference came from one of my favorite 80's kung-fu movies, "Berry Gordy's: The Last Dragon."

This initiative has 5 arms:

1) Proactive approach to known or perceived drug houses.

2) Randomly conducting "blitz enforcement" with several cars on at a particular day/time targeting certain areas.

3) Networking with area law enforcement agencies on known drug activity in the region.

4) Being a partner with an area SWAT team to utilize when the need arises.

5) Working with county officials on the possibility of having the regional drug team (SSCENT) regularly work Lake County.

JOINING NEWAYGO ERT

At the end of last year, I met with the Sheriff of Newaygo County about the possibility of getting one or two of my deputies on the Newaygo Area Emergency Response Team (ERT). This would be commonly known as a SWAT or Tactical team, and is made up of members from several departments. I am happy to announce that this is now a reality.

To my knowledge, this is the first time the Lake County Sheriff's Office has ever had a member on any tactical team. Currently, I have assigned one deputy to Newaygo ERT, and may possibly send another in the future. This team was instrumental on the last search warrant we conducted at a residence the end of last year.

DRUG UPDATES/ARRESTS

Here is a short list of some drug related incidents/arrests since we started this initiative. This is not a complete list due open investigations and sensitive information.

(Note: Due to the hazards of possibly being exposed to harmful and/or fatal narcotics such as fentanyl, deputies no longer field test evidence (possible drugs) on the road. They are all sent to the MSP crime lab for confirmation.)

• 08/21/20 After a vehicle pursuit, a large amount of methamphetamine and cash were located in a vehicle and were subsequently seized.

• 08-21-20 A subject was taken into custody for an outstanding warrant and possession of methamphetamines and possession of analog narcotics.

• 09/03/20 A subject was arrested for an outstanding warrant and possession of methamphetamine.

• 09/04/20 A subject was arrested possessing almost 4 grams of heroin.

• 09/11/20 This included numerous deputies out on patrol. The operation included 81 traffic stops, five arrests, 23 citations, 26 warnings, two narcotics related arrests, an arrest of a subject for a retail fraud that occurred earlier that day, the recovery of a stolen trailer, and a firearm was recovered for illegal possession. Our K-9, as well as two other K-9's were utilized from Mason and Newaygo counties.

• 10/10/20 A substance believed to be suboxone and a used needle taken from a subject on a traffic stop. Subject admitted to being a regular user of methamphetamine and heroin.

• 10/18/20 A syringe, with what was believed to be methamphetamine, taken from a subject on a complaint. Subject stated items were obtained outside the county.

• 10/20/20 Subject was arrested with the suspicion of operating under the influence of drugs.

• 10/21/20 Numerous needles, one full with possible methamphetamine and a solid amount of what is believed to be methamphetamine taken off a subject on a complaint.

• 10/25/20 A "meth" pipe with residue was taken off a subject pursuant to a traffic stop. The subject had numerous drug and/or felony related warrants out of other counties.

• 10/31/20 Subject arrested for suspected drugged driving pursuant to a traffic stop.

• 11/5/20 A vial of unknown pills was found on municipal property. Unknown who they belonged to.

• 11/5/20 Wrapper with a "crystal like" substance was taken off a subject pursuant to a complaint. Subject also had outstanding warrants, one was for felony drug possession.

• 11/20/20 Subject observed throwing something from the car window, subsequent to a traffic stop. Item was later located which was a small glass bottle with a powder substance inside.

• 11/30/20 Bag of "crystals" believed to be methamphetamine found in a cellphone case from a subject.

• 12/1/20 Executed a search warrant on a residence believed to be selling and/or distributing methamphetamine.

• 12/3/20 Three containers containing three bags of a powdery substance, believed to be methamphetamine, were taken from the bedroom of a residence subsequent to an investigation.

• 12/6/20 Deputies located a folded lottery ticket inside a boot which contained possible heroin, a syringe with an unknown clear liquid and a bag of crystal like substance was found in the center console, as well as a mixed substance from several pop caps. The suspects admitted to deputies that all items contained either methamphetamine, heroin or mixture of both. Both were arrested.

• 12/14/20 A subject was arrested with a presumed meth pipe with white residue, who also appeared to be under the influence of methamphetamine.

• 12/18/20 A loaded needle and a small plastic bag containing a white crystal substance was located inside a vehicle. The driver admitted that the needle contained his blood and methamphetamine as well as the bag contained methamphetamine. That subject was arrested.

• 1/1/21 A glass vial of a powdery substance was taken off a subject subsequent to a warrant arrest. The suspect later stated it was methamphetamine.

• 1/3/21 Two types of pill-type drugs were taken off a subject subsequent to a suspicious situation.

• 1/7/21 A clear container with two baggies of a white substance, and another clear container with a powdery substance all believed to be methamphetamine, were taken from a home subsequent to a probation violation. The suspect was also in possession of ammunition as a felon.

• 1/13/21 A clear pipe containing a brown residue and a bag containing a white substance were found while on a traffic stop. The subject later admitted that the substance was methamphetamine.

• 1/14/21 A clear pipe with a white and brown residue inside it was taken off a subject while on a traffic stop. The driver later admitted to having smoked meth a few hours prior.

• 1/16/21 Several needles and spoons with a brown residue, believed to be heroin, were taken from a residence subsequent to an investigation on an EMS call.

• 1/25/21 A box was found on the side of the road of a known drug house which contained a white substance, believed to be methamphetamine or cocaine, and a red straw. There was an ID card inside the box. Deputies made contact with the subject who stated he only smokes meth he doesn't snort it.

(Note: Please remember we can make an arrest and/or submit a request for criminal charges, but ultimately it comes down to the prosecutor to authorize these charges. We do not receive a list from the prosecutor's office on the disposition of most cases. Charges are sometimes dropped, or reduced to lesser charges. I have not seen a Trial Court Report in the paper for several weeks, so unfortunately the community can be in the dark on the outcome of cases.)

This will be an ongoing process. Let it be known, if you are selling illegal drugs or possessing illegal drugs in Lake County, we are coming for you. Enough is enough.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to rmartin@co.lake.mi.us.