Heroin arrests in 11 northern Missouri counties have skyrocketed in 2017, with 80 busts already recorded this year, Capt. Chris Brown reported to the Huntsville Rotary Club last week at its meeting at Don’s Family Style Buffet in Huntsville.

Brown, who is based in Kirksville, is operations director for the North Missouri Drug Task Force. The organization is comprised of law enforcement agencies in eight municipalities north of Interstate 70 and includes Adair, Chariton, Clark, Knox, Linn, Macon, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland and Sullivan counties.

He said the heroin arrests have emerged in the wake of the shrinking availability of illegally-obtained prescription drugs in recent years. As law enforcement has succeed in reducing the availability of the popular pain killers, the Task Force has observed the shift to the demand for heroin, Brown said.

Brown told the Rotarians marijuana continues to be prevalent and widely available throughout the region. Meanwhile, he said, there are fewer methamphetamine cookers plying their illicit trade in northern Missouri.

The Task Force leader said law enforcement has three years to prosecute those snared in the frequent roundups of drug dealers.

Brown said the Task Force has been successful in reaping a vast harvest of intelligence from arrestees, who divulge information about illegal drug trafficking the its players in return for reducing the charges they face. Brown said a famous arrest in the Moberly area, in which a subject faced traffic charges, resulted in the arrests of dozens of others allegedly involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of illegal drugs.

Each of the political jurisdictions in the North Missouri Drug Task Force contributes $4,800 per year to supporting the work of the four-man unit, necessitating attracting state, federal and private grants to fulfill its financial needs.

Randolph County Sheriff Mark Nichols, who was Capt. Brown’s host at the Rotary program, complimented the work of Brown and his colleagues on the Task Force. Nichols said the Task Force’s success had been a constant throughout his career in law enforcement in Moberly and Randolph County.

The North Missouri Drug Task Force is the second largest in the state, surpassed in size only by the comparable entity operating from Poplar Bluff in Southeast Missouri.

By Sam Richardson | Monitor-Index