OFIR President attends National Sheriff's Border School and Tour

El Paso, Texas hosted the Border School event that brought 60 Sheriff's from across the country to learn "What happens on the border, doesn't stay on the border".  Two sheriff's from Oregon attended.  OFIR salutes Morrow County Sheriff Kenneth Matlack and Multnomah County Under Sheriff Tim Morrow. 

Photos posted in the OFIR photo gallery.

What happens on the border, doesn't stay on the border

Alert date: 
September 17, 2012
Alert body: 

In a continuing effort to be well educated about the complexities of the issues surrounding illegal immigration, OFIR's President will travel to El Paso, Texas to attend the National Sheriff's Border School and Border Tour. The program is a rigorous and in-depth look at the issues faced each and every day by Law Enforcement officials not just on the border, but throughout the country.  Check back for updates.

OFIR President to give Border Tour presentation in Eugene

Alert date: 
September 11, 2012
Alert body: 

If you missed the OFIR meeting in May, please join Lane912 and others, this Tuesday, September 11th at 6:00pm to watch this disturbing presentation showing what is really happening on our southern border.  OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll participated in a private, behind the scenes tour of the Arizona-Mexico Border, travelling and talking with experts in Law Enforcement, the environment and more.

Admission is free.  Your participation is welcome.  Eugene IZZY's Restaurant at 950 Seneca Rd. in Eugene.

Report cites I-5 as major drug corridor

Illegal drugs continue to be a major problem for the state of Oregon — the manufacture of them, the use of them, the illicit sale of them and even their transportation, according to a report from the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.

Between January 2008 and the end of March 2012, authorities traced nearly $10 million in drug money seizures back to Oregon.

The connection to the state was determined through certain conditions: either the vehicle used for drug transportation or the driver’s license was registered to an Oregon address.

According to the HIDTA report, 464 incidents of drug or cash seizures could be traced back to Oregon. The most common states in which said incidents occurred were California, Nebraska and Kansas.

However, when considering the pounds of marijuana heading east, four states stand out: South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.

The reason for Oregon’s high amount of seizures, authorities said, is the state’s location on a prime drug route — Interstate 5.

“Oregon sits on one of a number of major drug corridors,” said Chris Gibson, director of the Oregon HIDTA. “Drugs coming from Mexico and drug trafficking organizations are either being dropped here or distributed with portions being dropped here.”

I-5 connects Canada, Mexico and the states in between in a single vein of traffic, making it an ideal route for drug traffickers. In addition, many of Oregon’s other highways run east to other outlying states. The report cited Highways 97 and 395 as major examples.

These connecting highways, in addition to a drug demand in Oregon, make the state appealing for drug traffickers, Gibson said.

“I think Oregon has its own demand problem,” he said. “We just happen to have that distinction of sitting on I-5, which is the pipeline from Mexico both ways. It’s natural for drugs to make it up this way and then head east, but a lot of it is being left behind in the state.”

The two most frequently trafficked drugs noted by HIDTA are marijuana and controlled prescription drugs. Between the two, more than 60,000 incidents of seizures were connected to Oregon during a four-year period.

Gibson said it’s important to note that although it appears the connections point to the drugs being physically located in Oregon at some point, that’s not necessarily true.

“For instance, you could have a person from Salem who, for whatever reason, grabs a load in Idaho and takes it East,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily connect the drugs that were being in Oregon at that point, I would say, with the exception primarily of marijuana.”

Southern Oregon continues to house a large amount of domestically-grown marijuana, Gibson said. More seizures of marijuana trafficking occurred on I-5 headed north than in any other direction or any other drug, according to the report.

Officials in Salem have a particular concern about marijuana because the drug frequently serves as a gateway into harder drugs, such as heroin, according to Lt. Dave Okada, spokesman for the Salem Police.

“A lot of it is marijuana leading to abuse of prescription drugs that leads to the heroin,” he said. “I don’t know if that has a correlation to the proximity of I-5, but our street crimes team is telling me that the vast majority of people they deal with on addiction issues say they started with marijuana.”

An Oregon State Police traffic stop north of Lakeview in 2011 led to the discovery of 50 pounds of marijuana. / Photo courtesy of Oregon State Police

Report: County is near top for drug abuse

It came as no surprise to Jackson County's narcotics officers and addiction treatment specialists that the region ranks high in Oregon in meth and prescription drug abuse.

The numbers come from a report released this week by the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, or HIDTA.

The report noted that Jackson County has most people per capita who seek treatment for prescription medication abuse. The county also ranks second, behind Umatilla County, in the number of people per 10,000 who are treated for methamphetamine addiction.

"This number is both good and bad in the sense that people are getting into treatment and there could be a light at the end of the tunnel to their addiction," said Medford police Deputy Chief Tim Doney, who also heads the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team.

"The bad news the report brings is that it drives home that there remains a large drug problem in our community."

The report said that just more than 30 people for every 10,000 in Jackson County have sought treatment for meth addiction.

Medford police Chief Tim George said that meth continues to pour into the region despite the Legislature's efforts to limit the sales of pseudoephedrine, a primary component in meth.

"It's shocking how much meth is transported into this area," George said. "It makes you wonder about the security of our border, because most of this meth is coming here from criminal organizations based in Mexico."

The HIDTA report said the number of meth labs seized in Oregon has plummeted since the Legislature took pseudoephedrine off the counter in 2004.

The supply was quickly buttressed by cartels in Mexico, who can produce meth by the ton and ship it across the United States.

"We are on the receiving end of powder drugs here," Doney said. "But in reference to marijuana, we are a source region."

The HIDTA report backs up Doney's claim by reporting that marijuana grown in Oregon is commonly found in the Midwest and South.

A large portion of this marijuana is diverted illegally from Oregon medical marijuana gardens and sold on the black market, George said.

"Our marijuana goes across the nation," Doney said. "That's just a fact of life."

Another disturbing tidbit listed in the report is the increase in heroin use among Oregon teens.

George argues that a smokeable form of heroin, known as "gunpowder," has taken away the stigma of a drug that once was associated with needles.

"You can now smoke it and not deal with needles," George said. "We are seeing that this is particularly popular with young people."

Earlier this year MADGE seized 49 pounds of heroin at a local bus station. Oregon State Police found 55 pounds during a car stop last week on Interstate 5 near Ashland.

"Without a doubt, heroin is on the rise here locally and throughout the state," George said.

In another piece of bleak news, HIDTA reported that drug-related deaths spiked across the state in 2011, with fatalities inching up 20 percent above 2010's numbers.

In all, 240 people died of drug overdoses in Oregon in 2011.


Per capita comparison of drug treatment admissions per 10,000 residents by county:

Jackson County

Heroin — 20

Prescription drugs — 31

Meth — 32

Marijuana — 40

Multnomah (includes Portland)

Prescription drugs — 25

Meth — 29

Marijuana — 40

Heroin — 60

Number of illegal marijuana plants eradicated by police by county for 2011:

Jackson County

Indoor — 383

Outdoor — 2,872

Josephine County

Indoor — 794

Outdoor — 577

Deschutes County

Indoor — 357

Outdoor — 0

Douglas County

Indoor — 52

Outdoor — 86

Meth lab seizures in Oregon since 2004

2004 — 448

2005 — 192

2006 — 62

2007 — 20

2008 — 21

2009 — 13

2010 — 13

2011 — 10 (2 in Jackson County)



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