Wednesday’s arrests come after 9 month investigation
On July 30, 2014, the La Paz County Narcotics Task Force, made up of the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, C.R.I.T. Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, conducted a “drug round up” in the areas of Ehrenberg, Quartzsite and the Parker Valley.
For the past nine months, the La Paz County Task Force has been conducting a series of narcotic related investigations across the County. During these investigations, undercover detectives and confidential informants have been purchasing methamphetamine from several alleged drug dealers. After making multiple purchases from each target, the Task Force closed out each case by presenting the cases to the County Attorney’s Office who then sent the paperwork to the local judge who in turn issued warrants for the suspects’ arrests.
According to the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, this specific round up is ‘closing out’ cases in the Ehrenberg/Quartzsite areas and a very small portion of the CRIT Valley. The day of the round up, the Task Force formed several groups of consolidated arrest teams with the agencies and went door to door arresting the alleged suspects. The Quartzsite Police Department assisted the Task Force with the arrests in the Quartzsite area. It also had assistance from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Narcotics Team in Blythe which made the arrest of one arrested within their jurisdiction.
“There are still several pending cases throughout different areas and towns within La Paz County that will be addressed when the investigations are complete,” said Lieutenant Curt Bagby at the Sheriff’s Office.
The effect of a drug dealer on a neighborhood
“When a ‘meth dealer’ is arrested, most people just think ‘Good, another drug dealer is in jail,'” he said. “What a lot of people don’t take the time to consider is what kind of effect a drug dealer has on a neighborhood.”
“When an individual uses methamphetamine for example, they get an extreme rush of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine is a natural chemical within the brain that is normally released in small increments. When using methamphetamine, the dopamine isn’t controlled and is released at a higher dosage causing the drug user’s desired effect. This desired effect or ‘rush’, creates a euphoric high that lasts anywhere from six to twelve hours.
When the person is coming down off meth, the brain stops producing the natural levels of dopamine, causing an extreme psychological low called a ‘crash’. The crash is very unpleasant to the user, causing him/her to seek out more methamphetamine at nearly any cost.
When a meth dealer is selling from their home, they are bringing several users into your neighborhood who normally do not belong there. Most of the time, these users don’t have enough money to buy from the dealer and they will take anything from the immediate area to give to the dealer in trade. Now because of this dealer, you have several meth users, who aren’t in the right state of mind, walking around your neighborhood looking for anything of value to steal to support their habit.
Once a person has taken the meth, as explained above, they go under a state of euphoric invincibility, causing often violent and aggressive behavior that contributes to a very high percentage of the crime within La Paz County.
When the Task Force makes an arrest on an alleged drug dealer, the objective is to ensure that the County Attorney’s Office has enough information to prosecute accordingly. The sentencing can be any type of corrective action from probation to prison. The hope is that we are able to remove the harmful elements from each neighborhood in La Paz County and either re-educate them with classes and counseling or send them to prison.”
According to Bagby’s statement, the types of drugs that are currently trending in La Paz County are methamphetamine, marijuana, prescriptions and heroin.
“If you notice suspicious activity in your neighborhood or you suspect a person is selling/using any illegal drugs, you can contact the Task Force at (928) 669-9645 or anonymously online at lapazsheriff.org. Remember, it takes much more than ‘suspicion’ to arrest a person for drug use or sales. The reason it takes several months for the Task Force detectives to complete a case is because we want to conduct a thorough investigation without violating anyone’s civil rights. If you do call in a complaint, we most likely won’t be able to keep the complainant updated on the progress. Just be patient with the system and hope that the problem will be addressed soon.”
Among those named and pictured above are Dennis Baragar, Linda Castleberry, Gene Clark Jr., Thomas Delano, Jose Flores, Angel Gonzalez, Harry Kuffel, Manuel Lopez, Alfredo Sambrano and Debra Stephens.
Parker Live wants to remind the reader that anyone arrested and charged with any crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.