more help to this region
When two men from Iowa decided to set
up shop on what seemed like a sleepy Tarkio, Mo. ranch
last January, it was really a very poor time and place
to be a methamphetamine dealer. The farm belonged to
Congressman Sam Graves and his younger brother, U.S.
Attorney Todd Graves.
While those two drug offenders (who allegedly
told Graves' brother Danny they were "just fishing"),
personal experiences like that have understandably concerned
Congressman Graves and have led him to personally meet
the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration,
Karen Tandy, in an appeal for help on Capitol Hill last
At the meeting, Graves said he laid out
his case for the need for a new DEA office in St. Joseph.
Graves believes that the northwest section of Missouri
is being underserved by the agency.
"Karen was really receptive to my
reasoning and I am confident she understands the threat
drugs pose to northwest Missouri," Graves said.
"With a new DEA office in St. Joseph, drug dealers
will have fewer and fewer places to hide.
Graves would seem to have a strong case.
He points to data from the Missouri Highway Patrol that
indicates that a larger federal presence could increase
seizures of drug labs. In Cape Girardeau county, federal
and state law enforcement seized 33 labs last year.
In more densely populated Platte County, only one bust
was made in 2002.
While it can be argued that Platte County
has done an admirable job of curbing the stem of methamphetamines
(Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson has even gone
so far as to say at a recent meeting of the Platte Republican
Association that his office has "virtually eliminated
meth from Platte County) neighboring counties have not
had the same success.
According to the Missouri State Highway
Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control, Buchanan
County had 51 meth lab busts in 2002. Since January,
the Platte County Sheriff's Dept. has busted a total
of 3 labs. Statewide, the number of meth lab busts have
been doubling nearly every year since 1999.
"We've been working with the DEA
professionally and personally for quite some time now,"
said Captain Paul Carrill of the Platte County Sheriff's
Carrill said that the department has two
detectives assigned to work with the DEA at Kansas City
International Airport and three others who work with
the DEA in street level enforcement.
"It's very important that our officers
coordinate, cooperate and communicate with the DEA,"
Carrill explained, adding that local, state and federal
officers needed to team together to effectively accomplish
their crime fighting goals.
"The people who deal in drugs don't
care about county lines and state boundaries."
Graves has made his position known on the matter consistently
while in office. When then DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson
visited Kansas City last September, Graves was also
on hand to ask for more help from the agency. Hutchinson
agreed with Graves for the increased need.
400 FBI agents are being pulled
from the war on drugs fight to target terrorism,
Hutchison said then. While I think the FBI is
making the right decision to focus all of their efforts
on terrorism, the DEA is going to work hard to fill
that gap being vacated.
Graves believes the time is now.
"Our success in eliminating the drug threat will
depend on how much we invest in this fight," Graves
said. "Any cost of opening a new DEA office is
not as high as the cost of having too many Missouri
children's lives devastated by drugs. We simply cannot
afford to fail.