Task force sees increase in drug cases

Authorities across Shelby County saw a rapid increase over the past six months in the number of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine arrests recently, according to Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Chris George.

George, commander of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force, said his agency created nearly 300 cases, served about 400 warrants and took more than 10,000 grams of narcotics off the streets.

“We are taking a very aggressive approach toward going after these cases,” George said as he spoke to the Shelby County Commission April 12. “There is nothing more satisfying than having someone in the community come up to you and say ‘thank you, thank you for getting this out of our neighborhood.’”

Since October 2009, the task force, which is composed of representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, the Shelby County district attorney’s office, the Alabama Air National Guard and the Alabaster, Pelham and Helena police departments, has discovered 25 meth labs.

“Every time we get a tip from a secret witness, we act on it as quickly as we can,” George said. “One bottle can be considered a meth lab.”

George also said the task force has seen a rise in cases involving heroin and white powder cocaine.

“We have seen an increase in heroin cases. For what reason, we don’t know,” George said. “And there is a difference in purity levels now when compared to 15 or 20 years ago. A very small amount of heroin can be lethal.

“Powder cocaine is still an issue, and we are aware of bricks of pure cocaine in some communities,” George added.

Montevallo and Calera may be represented on the task force soon, and county drug agents are planning to become more proactive in prosecuting drug offenders, George said.

“We are trying to get a couple more cities on board,” George said. “We are really asking ourselves ‘what can we do to go after those who seek to do us harm.

“And when those people get out of jail, we are keeping an eye on them,” George added.

In other business, the commission:

Awarded a bid to Industrial Chemical, Inc., from which the county will purchase hydrated lime at a rate of $143.50 per ton to use for the county’s water services.

Accepted an $8,311 bid from the Building Specialty Company to replace doors and door hardware in county buildings.

Awarded a $357-per-item bid to Gulf States Distributors for Glock pistols for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Awarded bids to Schwabb Printing and Southern Engraving to provide the county’s envelopes and letterheads.

Agreed to accept right of way along Farley Lane near the Lee Branch shopping center in preparation for a Hoover paving project connecting the shopping center with the Eagle Point subdivision.

Gave permission to the Vulcan Oil Company to install a monitoring well at its BP gas station at the corner of Valleydale Road and Caldwell Mill Road. The well will determine if the gas station has a leak in one of its underground gasoline tanks.

Appointed Henrietta Oliver to fill a vancany on the Little Waxie Water Authority Board.