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Tuolumne Narcotics Team Facing Deep Cuts

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Sonora, CA — Major cutbacks could be right around the corner for the Tuolumne Narcotics Team (TNT) based out of the Tuolumne County Sheriff´s Department and a number of other agencies.

According to Sheriff Jim Mele, Congress has shut down the Marijuana Suppression Program in addition to cutting burn grants by 67 percent. Mele says such cutbacks will also affect the District Attorney´s office.

Unless the Board of Supervisors allocates money from the county´s general fund, there could be drastic cuts to TNT. Currently the team is comprised of Unit Commander Sgt. Scott Johnson, four investigators, one Sonora Police Department officer (grant funded) in addition to administrative personnel.

Last year TNT set a county record by eradicating 107,000 marijuana plants. Over the past decade the California based Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) has witnessed a 1,200 percent increase in plant seizures.

Mele adds that Mexican drug cartels, not local residents, are responsible for the marijuana grows throughout California and the west coast. According to U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Ron Pugh of the Pacific Southwest Region, the west coast marijuana industry is controlled by three Mexican families whose identities are known to state and federal authorities.

Written by Bill Johnson