By Wayne Gates –
The Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force was very busy in 2017.
“The street value of the drugs seized last year by the task force in Brown County was over half a million dollars. That amount of narcotics off the street makes a huge difference in a community the size of ours,” said Task Force Commander Justin Conley.
The total value of 2017 drug seizures was $568,282 in 2017, with approximately $130,000 seized so far in 2018, according to Conley. He also said that the task force seized 23 firearms last year.
“Last year we had a case where we worked backwards from a Brown County heroin dealer to a Warren County dealer that gave up a Mexican national. When they arrested him, they seized two kilos of cocaine and a large amount of U.S. currency,” Conley said.
76 felony state charges and one federal indictment were filed in 2017 as a result of the work of the task force and local law enforcement.
“The task force was able to work cases that had 22 different individuals that were charged with at least one first degree felony last year,” Conley said.
He added that the work the task force does would not be possible without local partners.
“One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with the other police agencies. We routinely get information from one jurisdiction that leads to an arrest in another. We are an outlet for information from individual police agencies that benefits the entire area,” Conley said.
“What we constantly try to do is work mid to high level drug trafficking cases. There are a lot of good officers out there in uniform that do a good job, and we couldn’t do our job without them.”
Conley said that the strategy of going after bigger fish has started to pay off.
“In the last 18 months, they have worked two cases back to Mexican nationals within just a few steps. We are trying to take down the supply lines coming into Brown County,” he said.
Moving forward, Conley said that he hoped to concentrate on continuing to find more funding to operate.
“Hopefully federal grant funding will increase when we show results and demonstrate that we are being an effective unit. I think that will help us increase the probability of getting more grant funding,” he said.
Conley added that he appreciated the continued support at the local level.
“We have a lot of support from police agencies. The villages of Mt. Orab and Georgetown support us in many ways. For example, the Mt. Orab Police Department donates $30,000 a year to the drug task force, the Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services donates to the task force to help with projects that we work together,” he said.
Conley said that he and the other members of the task force are also trying to fight drugs with more than just enforcement efforts.
“We continue to go out and speak about prevention and rehabilitation as well as enforcement. We have agents that work with the county quick response team to go out and help with rehabilitation,” Conley said.
He said that he along with Brown County Prosecutor Zac Corbin, Sheriff Gordon Ellis, Probate/Juvenile Judge Danny Bubp and others have talked to over 600 people at school and community groups so far this year.
Conley said that task force members have also spoken to neighborhood watch groups.
“We talk about what they can do to be the eyes and ears for the drug task force and local law enforcement. We tell them how they can provide tips and how to safely handle situations,” he said.
Conley said that the bottom line is that effectiveness for the task force comes from listening to the citizens of the county.
“We are trying to stay connected with the community and listening to the issues that they see from their different points of view,” Conley said.