The Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force has been hard at work making cases and conducting arrests with a recent trend that has them concerned. Commander Brandon Owens said the tri-county area (comprised of Pickens, Gilmer and Fannin counties) has seen a large influx of methamphetamine due to dropping prices. The trend was uncovered in the fall and has only worsened over the ensuing months.
Numerous arrests have uncovered the unfortunate examples which are attributed to the cost of meth dropping which likewise means an increase in demand. An informant now prices a pound of meth at $9000-12,000 whereas two years ago it would’ve cost $18,000-20,000.
With nearby Atlanta termed “a huge hub,” an economy making a slow recovery and a mostly blue collar worker population, Owens said the combination means trouble.
“A lot of people started selling because of the economy. The majority are users who sell to support their habit.”
With the discovery of two labs in Fannin County and a total of 21 meth-related cases netting 35 arrests in the entire circuit since January, the Task Force has dedicated themselves to eradicating the problem.
Locally within Pickens County the team has made the following cases:
October 11, 2013: Paula Teague of Fairmount- felony trafficking; Charged after vehicle search. Eight ounces of methamphetamine recovered.
December 6, 2013: Lisa Jenkins of Acworth – felony possession, manufacturing, distribution. Arrest made as a result of a traffic stop. Two ounces of meth in her possession.
December 6, 2013: Ruben Acosta-Rubio of Atlanta – felony possession, manufacturing, distribution. Traffic stop resulting in charges and recovery of nine ounces of methamphetamine.
March 5, 2014: Audrea Fountain of Bryant Road, Jasper – felony possession, manufacturing, distribution. Search warrant on property resulting in more than 2 ounces of meth recovered and $2000 cash.
March 5, 2014: Donnie Fountain of Bryant Road, Jasper - felony possession, manufacturing, distribution. Search warrant on property resulting in more than 2 ounces of meth recovered and $2000 cash.
March 20, 2014: Ralph Turner of Reavis Road, Ball Ground – illegal possession with intent to sell and possession within guard lines. Search warrant on property with 2 grams of meth recovered from home and $3000 cash seized. “Guard lines” means that he failed to notify deputies he had illegal substances on his person that weren’t found until a thorough search was conducted at the jail.
Nevertheless, there is hope on the horizon and Owens remains optimistic the problems can be overcome. He reports that a percentage comparison by population/usage with other areas shows this area has no more of a problem than others.
Another positive note is the drug court program in the Appalachian Judicial District which can offer alternative sentencing to those found guilty.
“The way to decrease demand is by curing addiction,”
Please see slideshow of meth-related arrests here: