Great article in GoSkagit by journalist Brandon Stone reports that the WA Commerce Department may stop funding Skagit County’s drug enforcement squad. This puts the future of this unit at risk.
THE SKAGIT COUNTY DRUG TASK FORCE
The Skagit County Drug Task Force is a “vice” unit composed of police officers from all of Skagit County’s law enforcement agencies. The Task Force is responsible for gathering intelligence on illegal drug activity in and through Skagit County. They conduct investigations, make arrests and conduct seizures based on that intelligence. They also shut down drug houses, intercept deliveries, and assist in the prosecution of high-profile drug dealers.
Each member of the Drug Task Force has years of experience in law enforcement. The Task Force has assembled a wide range of informants providing them with a constant flow of information.
Tobin Meyer, the commander of the Task Force, recently addressed the Mount Vernon City Council. He discussed the funding issues and asked if the City would offer support if State funding stopped. He said of the unit’s $450,000 annual budget, $150,000 traditionally comes from this grant. Funding would usually come in September, but he can’t count on it this year.
“It’s a David and Goliath battle, but we’re doing our best.” ~Tobin Meyer, chief criminal deputy with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office
INCREASE OF FENTANYL & “TRANQ”
Meyer discussed recent trends in drug trafficking. hE painted a dire picture of the prevalence of fentanyl in the county.
As recently as 2019, this highly concentrated opioid was rare. But by 2022, law enforcement took more than 300,000 pills off the street, Meyer said. A counterfeit Percocet pill containing fentanyl might have cost $20 to $30 wholesale in 2020, but today’s price is closer to a dollar.
A new drug called Xylazine, also called Tranq, was found in Skagit County after first being documented elsewhere in the country. Unlike opioids, there is no known overdose antidote to xylazine.
DRUG TRENDS IN WA STATE
Washington ranks third worst in the nation for illicit drug use disorder, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released in December 2021. WA State ranks next to last in delivering drug treatment to adults and teens who say they need it. More than 2,000 people died of drug overdoses last year in Washington, a 66% jump since 2019.