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Drug interdiction program helps combat the county’s opioid crisis

When Jeff Crisco took office as sheriff, one of the first things he did was set up a new program to help combat the opioid epidemic in the county.

Modeled after a similar program in Iredell County, where Crisco has known Sheriff Darren Campbell for many years, he created the the drug interdiction program, which consists of four deputies whose main role is to prevent drugs from entering the county.

“It was a must,” Crisco said. “We had to do something.”

Crisco is talking about a drug problem that has consistently placed Stanly among the worst in opioid overdoses in the state.

Jeff Crisco

Though he wasn’t sure about neighboring counties, Crisco said eastern counties along Interstate 95 have similar programs. 

Thanks to a partnership with Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, the Stanly deputies involved in the program travel to Iredell for classes and on-the-job training.

“They’re learning the tricks of the trade by people that’s been doing it for years,” Crisco said. 

The goal for the deputies is to look for indicators, through their training and experience, of vehicles entering the county that are trafficking in narcotics or money, he said. 

Drug dealers and traffickers, wanting to avoid the major metropolitan cities, often utilize roads in more rural counties like Stanly instead of interstates, Crisco said. 

Because of this, the deputies patrol the back roads as much as they do the major roads (N.C. Highway 24-27, N.C. Highway 49 and U.S. Highway 52) in the county.

Typically drugs arrive in Albemarle and then get distributed to other parts of the county.

Since the beginning of the year, deputies have made 193 arrests, have had 440 charges and obtained 176 search warrants. They have seized 129 grams of methamphetamines (around $12,900), 22 grams of cocaine ($2,200) , 10 grams of heroin ($1,000), 1,072 grams of marijuana ($7,100), 20 firearms and a little over $2,000 in cash.

“The Sheriff’s Office is working very hard in the drug enforcement areas and in removing controlled substances from the streets of Stanly County and has been working well with our office in prosecuting these cases,” Stanly District Attorney Lynn Clodfelter said.

Much of the program involves a wait-and-see approach as the deputies sit by the side of roads, actively looking for any indicators that may point to possible drug smugglers. Crisco said, contrary to what some people think, the deputies are not running radar and looking for speeding cars. 

Aside from patrolling the roads, deputies also share information with the narcotics team and the Stanly County Joint Drug Task Force, which consists of the Sheriff’s Office, Albemarle Police Department and a law enforcement member from each of the other municipalities. 

Whenever the Drug Task Force receives complaints about a house involved in drug smuggling, deputies are often sent to patrol the neighborhood and watch and stop suspicious cars. 

The program “is not going to stop” drugs from coming into the county, Crisco said, but “it’s definitely helping to deter it.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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