By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — The number of cocaine-related arrests is on the rise, according to Portales Police officials.
Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry gave some examples:
n A recent drug bust near the city park uncovered 50 to 54 baggies of prepackaged cocaine.
n A search warrant executed May 27 netted several arrested and the recovery of 60 grams of cocaine.
n In April, an ounce of crack cocaine was seized.
Portales Police Department Chief Jeff Gill said 129 individuals have been arrested on drug-related charges since May 2005, and the more prevalent drug in those arrests is cocaine.
Berry said police officers have seen this trend more in the last couple of months, although the arrests weren’t broken down for each narcotic category.
“There is a growing trend of cocaine arrests we are finding now because methamphetamine arrests are going through a downward trend because of Meth Watch and other programs,” Gill said.
The Meth Watch Program was passed through a county ordinance in September and went into effect shortly thereafter. The ordinance restricts sale of decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, which can be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Portales police don’t have concrete answers for the increased presence of cocaine.
“The availability is the number-one factor,” Berry said. “It all depends on how much meth or cocaine is available on the market.”
Berry said through suspect questioning and working with other law agencies, police officers are discovering most of the cocaine is coming from south of the border and meth is coming from Arizona and California.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said increased law enforcement, Meth Watch programs and community awareness have helped decrease the number of meth labs in Curry and Roosevelt counties. Chandler said since March 2005, only one meth lab has been identified in the district (Roosevelt and Curry counties).
Chandler said in 2004 police found 10 meth labs.
“We in the DA’s office have zero-tolerance for drug trafficking,” Chandler said. “The goal is to try to stop all drug trafficking to the community by sending them to prison.”