“I can tell you that everywhere in the county has a drug problem,” Madison County prosecutor Steve Pronai told West Jefferson Village Council on Monday, March 17.
Pronai had been invited to speak to council about drug enforcement in the county.
“In some ways, West Jefferson has a worse drug problem, since you’re close to Columbus, which is Drug Central,” Pronai said. “Mostly we have heroin coming in from Mexican drug cartels operating out of the west side of Columbus.”
“If you look at the cases going through the court system, you’d see that 90 percent of them are drug or alcohol related,” Pronai said.
The county prosecutor’s office, the Madison County Sheriff’s office, and the London, Plain City and West Jefferson police forces have all teamed up in recent months to create a county-wide drug task force.
“Basically, we go out and buy drugs,” Pronai said, explaining that possession of heroin is too small of a crime to go after, so the task force works together to catch users buying and selling the stuff.
Council questioned the use of West Jefferson police resources, most specifically the K-9 unit, outside of the village.
Pronai explained that drug-sniffing dogs need to be used on a regular basis.
“They dogs stay trained by continual use,” he said.”I can’t answer how much time your guys spend in this village or elsewhere in the county.”
Council member Cory Coburn asked of the task force, “If we need two detectives in our bureau, is the village getting the best bang for the buck out of this system?”
Pronai said he couldn’t answer that question, but expounded on how the drug task force works.
“Sheriff Sabin set this up and it’s working pretty well right now. The problem is, in many cases, it’s easier and cheaper to buy heroin than a 12-pack of beer,” Pronai said.
On the effectiveness of the drug task force, Pronai added, “It won’t stop the flow of drug users but we’re catching those that are making the next step.”
Rob Treynor may be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or on Twitter @robtreynor.