A new drug enforcement partnership in Southwest Missouri seems to have already paid off with four arrests in Joplin.
Neighbors of a mobile home at 719 East 40th Street, near 32nd and Main streets, say they aren't surprised a drug bust happened here.
"Typical residence that we find, like this. Lots of trash. I know there had already been some children removed from the residence before," says Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland.
Neighbors didn't want to be interviewed on camera, but say they regularly saw at this mobile home a man hit a woman, while the woman held a young child. Investigators found eight grams of meth and about a quarter of a pound of marijuana at this home. Four people were arrested and have been charged with possession of drugs with intent to distribute.
"Its been my finding that as people get more intertwined with drugs, they care less about their living conditions and how they eat, when they eat. It goes right down to the children, eventually," says Jennings.
Sheriff Jennings has a warning to other drug users and distributors: There's an even better chance you'll be arrested next.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office is now part of the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team. Eight full-time drug enforcement team investigators have already been helping Jasper, McDonald, Barry, and Barton counties make drug arrests since 2014. Those eight drug enforcement members now have the right to make arrests in Newton County.
"Just makes it easier for us all to have arrest powers because there are a lot of times where we may be doing a warrant on multiple people in the house, and it takes more manpower to make an arrest or to do surveillance," says Chad Allison, commander of the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team.
More federal resources for drug arrests and prosecutions are available to Newton County deputies, as well, through this new partnership. The Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team is partially funded by partnering sheriff's offices. Four-thousand dollars will come from the Newton County Sheriff's Office this year.
"In the past, the fee was quite a bit higher than that, and it made you want to ask the question whether it was to our benefit," says Jennings.
But grant money has lowered the cost to become a drug enforcement team partner. The goal is to make more arrests, and more interventions, especially when children are involved.
The Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team has made 416 arrests since the organization was formed in the later part of 2014.
Some family members of one of the suspects arrested in Joplin came to the mobile home, while we were there, and a woman said she hopes her brother being arrested is a wake-up call to shape-up.
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