Brian Marquart, Minnesota Depart of Public Safety Drug and Gang Task Force Coordinator (and Mora native) spoke with the SACK Coalition on Tuesday, August 1st. As the Statewide Coordinator, his responsibilities are: to coordinate and monitor all multi-jurisdictional gang and drug enforcement activities, facilitate local task force efforts, monitor compliance with investigation protocol, and report to the Commissioner of Public Safety. During his presentation, Marquart discussed: local drug conditions, statistical data, and dangers and challenges law enforcement officers face.
In Minnesota there are 21 Violent Crime Enforcement Teams (VCETs), comprised of 200 full time investigators with over 6000 active investigations. These teams cover 70 counties; Kanabec, Pine, Chisago, and Isanti County combine to form one VCET, East Central Drug and Violent Offenders Task Force.
Teams report emerging drug trends, which are then complied, and the outlook “is not good news,” said Marquart. In 2016, Methamphetamine and Powder Cocaine have both made a resurgence. Marquart indicated that, the increase availability and decrease in price are contributing to the growth in use. Methamphetamine transportation from the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization continues to rise in both commercial, and private vehicles. In some cases, Methamphetamine is transported as liquid mixed with diesel fuel to evade the drug sniffing dogs and testing equipment Border Patrol Agents use as deterrents.
Seizures, arrest, and overdoses of synthetic drugs have hit an all-time high! There has been a spike in Opioid related deaths from the use of Fentanyl. Marquart explained that illegal drug manufactures will mix small amounts of Fentanyl with large Heroin batches. While one divided batch of Heroin may have 60 micrograms (1 grain of salt is equal 60 micrograms), other batches may end up with 240 to 480 micrograms (or more). Toxicology reports do not often include screens for Fentanyl, so the number of actual deaths related to Fentanyl over doses could be much higher than reported.
Marquart’s presentation showed the coalition members what is happening on a statewide level. In Kanabec County, we often feel unaffected by the heavy hitting drugs like Heroin and Fentanyl. Learning from our law enforcement partners about the challenges they face gives prevention workers and community coalitions a greater sense of urgency to keep our children engaged in positive and healthy life choices.
If you would like to learn more about the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK), we invite you to join us! Our next coalition meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 12th, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Kanabec County Jail Training Room. In the next few months we will be hosting events, activities, and seminars that are FREE to community members. Our website is full of resources, information, and upcoming events. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter too!
The fight to end addiction, begins with prevention. We are all better when we work together!