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Our Opinion: Taking a bite out of the drug trade

Addressing the Crow Wing County Board June 13 about drug trends, Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl offered a startling perspective.

"I can tell you that it's (meth use) higher than I've ever seen in my 30 years," Dahl told the board of commissioners. "Once we get a handle on it, it seems like there's always more coming in."

It's a scary thought, especially after local meth labs were effectively wiped out more than a decade ago, and public awareness on the dangers of meth are everywhere.

And it wasn't just methamphetamine. Dahl noted his deputies and investigators also have seen an increase in heroin. There's also the reported increase in the use of opioids, which some see as a national crisis.

Which makes the news of the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division's eight-month investigation which led to criminal charges against 28 people for the sale of drugs all the more welcome.

During the investigation, LADID agents conducted numerous controlled buys of narcotics which led to a total of about 320 grams of methamphetamine, 19 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 9 grams of heroin, and four firearms being purchased. LADID agents worked closely with the Crow Wing County Attorney's Office to coordinate the cases involved.

The charges the 28 alleged drug dealers—whose ages ranged from 19 to 59—face range from felony third-degree sale of a controlled substance to felony first-degree sale of a controlled substance. Depending on what happens through the court process, prison sentences are possible for many of those involved.

Of course we're not naive. We know such an investigation can only stem for a time, not entirely stop, the drug trade in Crow Wing County. But what the investigation does show is that the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, the LADID and local police departments are taking the problem seriously and being proactive. Our hope is that it would send a message to would-be drug dealers that, sooner or later, law enforcement will find them.

It also reminds us residents that the drug problem isn't just confined to big cities like Minneapolis or Chicago. It's here, it has always been here and probably always will be. Drug use is expensive to combat both criminally and through the destruction it can cause users and their families. Officials need our continuing support in their efforts.

The bottom line is the LADID did a good job and should be commended for a successful investigation.