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Casper Police: DEA funded drug operation seizes 520.82 grams of marijuana, 66.7 grams of meth and more

File Photo; Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City News

CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper Police Department said on Wednesday , April 7 that a “drug interdiction operation” with funding support from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program was carried out in the Casper area last week.

During the March 29-30 operation, various law enforcement agencies made a total of 389 traffic stops. The operations result in:

  • 23 total arrests
    • 13 drug related
    • 6 warrant related
    • 3 alcohol related
  • Drug seizures of:
    • 520.82 grams of marijuana (including one vehicle carry one pound)
    • 600 mg THC edibles
    • 1 gram THC wax
    • “multiple vehicles with user amounts of marijuana and THC edibles”
    • 66.7 grams of methamphetamine
    • 1 gram of cocaine
  • 80 speeding citations
  • 26 moving violation citations
  • 9 seatbelt/child restraint citations
  • 269 warnings

Casper PD said they were asked to participate in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in 2019. They were unable to participate in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the March 29-30, 2021 operation was the first of the year.

The Casper City Council authorized the Casper PD to accept $35,000 in funding from the DEA for cannabis eradication and suppression on Feb. 2. Council members Shawn Johnson and Amber Pollock voted against authorized the acceptance of the funding.

Council member Kyle Gamroth said during the Feb. 9 work session that he regretted voting in favor of allowing the Casper PD to accept the DEA funding.

Casper PD said on Wednesday that the DEA funding helps them conduct “targeted operations to help prevent the presence and transport of illegal drugs” in the community and also “the criminal activity associated with them.”

“Our goal with an operation such as this is to have a highly visible, highly saturated presence in targeted areas of the community,” Casper PD said. “In doing so, officers are able to more readily conduct traffic stops on vehicles they see violate traffic law. If the traffic stop interaction between the officer and individual(s) inside the vehicle shows potential evidence of illegal substance use or presence, the officer has additional resources readily available to conduct a further investigation.”

Casper PD noted that other law enforcement agencies participated in the March 29-30 drug interdiction operation, including:

  • the Wyoming Highway Patrol
  • Natrona County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mills Police Department
  • Evansville Police Department
  • Glenrock Police Department
  • Casper-Natrona County Public Safety Communication Center

“According to the DEA, Marijuana is the only major drug of abuse grown within the U.S. borders,” Casper PD said. “The DEA is aggressively striving to halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States. To accomplish this, the DEA initiated the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), which is the only nationwide law enforcement program that exclusively targets Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) involved in cannabis cultivation.” 

Casper PD Special Operations Lieutenant Ryan Dabney added: “Our Community can be proud of the pro-active efforts our officers are making to keep this community safe through prevention. Our officers take personal responsibility for putting together operations such as this to address needs they identify while on and off duty. We are grateful to have the resources offered through this DEA-funded program to further our drug prevention efforts in Casper. As the results show from this short fourteen-hour operation – our officers’ are accurately identifying needs in our community; then creatively, and effectively, working to solve them. That is true community policing.”

A recent survey by the University of Wyoming’s Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC) found that’s 54% of Wyoming residents support allowing adults in Wyoming to legally possess marijuana for personal use. Legislators who sponsored a bill to legalize recreational marijuana during the Wyoming Legislature’s 2021 General Session pointed to this survey as a reason to consider legalizing marijuana, but the bill missed a deadline and did not advance to debate in the full House of Representatives.

According to a UW press release in Dec. 2020, the survey results point to a trend in which more and more people in the state approve of marijuana legalization. That trend has been observed through 2014, 2016 and 2018, when support rose from 37% to 41% to 49%, respectively.

Across age groups, there is a statistically significant decline in support as age increases.

The percentage of support for legalization among age groups is as follows:

  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 67%
  • 25- to 34-year-olds: 74%
  • 35- to 44-year-olds: 68 %
  • 55- to 64-year-olds: 51%

Groups showing less than a majority in support in favor of legalization is as follows:

  • 45- to 55-year-olds: 45%
  • 65- to 75-year-olds: 40%
  • 75 years-old and older: 30%

According to Rodney Wambeam, a senior research scientist at WYSAC,  the support for recreational marijuana use reflects a decrease in the perceived risk or harm related to the drug, UW said.

“Despite the increasing dangers of marijuana use, such as addiction or drugged driving, young people in particular seem to view marijuana as a safe and natural alternative to alcohol or other illicit drugs,” Wambeam said.

A large majority (85%) of Wyoming residents say they support the legalization of doctor-prescribed marijuana for medical purposes, comparable to the 86% who supported that measure in 2018.

75% of Wyoming residents believe that people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not serve time in jail, the survey found. This has increased from 69 percent in 2018 and from 66 percent in 2014, UW said.

“As laws regarding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana change around the U.S., especially in nearby states, it’s not surprising to see attitudes in Wyoming change as well,” says Brian Harnisch, a senior research scientist at WYSAC. “In all bordering states except Idaho, marijuana or medical marijuana has been legalized to some extent or decriminalized.”

Data set:

The statewide survey was conducted Oct. 8-29, yielding 614 responses from randomly selected Wyoming citizens, UW said. The margin of error for the distribution of responses on any individual survey question is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Men and women from all age groups are represented, and all counties in Wyoming are proportionally represented in the survey sample. The final survey data have been weighted to reflect the actual population distribution in Wyoming on these key demographic characteristics.

Both landline and cellular telephone numbers were randomly generated for the study, resulting in 82 percent of completed surveys on cellphones. The survey is funded by WYSAC and UW’s School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies.

University of Wyoming

The complete survey results are available here.

The Casper PD encouraged people to report information about illegal drug activity by calling 307-235-8278. 

“You can help keep yourself and our entire community safe by following the rules of the road: drive the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, do not drive distracted, and never drive impaired,” Casper PD said. “We appreciate your ongoing support of our efforts here at the Casper Police Department to keep Casper safe.”

“You can learn more about the DEA Domestic Cannabis Suppression/Eradication Program by visiting: dea.gov/domestic-cannabis-suppression-eradication-program.”

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