Jackson County: Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Issue a Prescription of Death
July 27, 2013
By David Olen Cross
According to the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HITDA), 2013 Threat Assessment and Counter-Drug Strategy, report most of the illicit drugs smuggled into Jackson County are sourced from Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs).
On June 4th the Oregon Medical Examiner (OME) reported 223 deaths in 2012 were caused by the illicit drugs; the preceding number of drug deaths being third highest number since 2002. The types of drugs by the numbers that killed 223 of the state’s residents last year were 147 from heroin, 19 from cocaine, 93 from methamphetamine or 33 from a combination of the preceding drugs.
When it came to illicit drug related deaths in the state last year, according to the OME, Jackson County was tied for second with Marion County with 19 illicit drug related deaths (10 heroin, zero cocaine, 11 methamphetamine or one from a combination of drugs); the county experienced its highest number of drug related deaths in seven years.
Putting these numbers into perspective, Jackson County experienced 8.52 percent of the states illicit drug deaths, a 111.11 percent increase in drug deaths from the previous year.
Looking at the last seven years of OME reports of illicit drug related deaths, here is where Jackson County ranked by number and percentage of those drug deaths:
– OME reported 213 illicit drug deaths in 2006, the county had 6 drug deaths (2.82 percent);
– OME reported 212 illicit drug deaths in 2007, the county had 10 drug deaths (4.72 percent);
– OME reported 229 illicit drug deaths in 2008, the county had 7 drug deaths (3.06 percent);
– OME reported 213 illicit drug deaths in 2009, the county had 5 drug deaths (2.35 percent);
– OME reported 200 illicit drug deaths in 2010, the county had 3 drug deaths (1.50 percent);
– OME reported 240 illicit drug deaths in 2011, the county had 9 drug deaths (3.75 percent);
– OME reported 223 illicit drug deaths in 2012, the county had 19 drug deaths (8.52 percent).
Totaling the preceding numbers from seven years of OME reports, Jackson County had 59 of the 1,530 illicit drug related deaths recorded in the state; 3.86 percent of the states drug deaths.
Moving beyond the OME report’s past body counts, a look at the current Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) prison population gives a picture of who is most likely dealing the drugs killing the states / county’s residents.
On June 1st in the DOC prison system there were 162 foreign nationals (prisoners with immigration detainers) incarcerated for drug crimes, 148 of those prisoners declared their country of origin as being Mexico, that’s 91.36 percent of the foreign nationals in prison for drug crimes.
Locally, cases adjudicated in Jackson County Circuit Courts have sent 23 Mexican nationals to serve time in DOC prisons, 15.54 percent of the Mexicans in prison for drug crimes; the county was third of 36 Oregon counties in the number of Mexican nationals locked up for drug crimes in the state’s prisons.
As recently as July 8th, the Jackson County Jail incarcerated 10 prisoners with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, a strong sign federal immigration officials believe those individuals may be in the country illegally; two of those individuals with ICE detainers were charged with drug crimes, that’s 25.00 percent of the prisoners with ICE detainers at the jail.
For the first seven months of the year, the Jackson County Jail has averaged has averaged approximately 10 prisoners per day with ICE detainers; included in the preceding number, over the same period of time the jail has averaged approximately three prisoners per day with ICE detainers charged with drug crimes.
What should Jackson County’s elected officials responsible public safety of the residents of the county do to takeout current and future Mexican DTOs operating or that may operate in the county?
To deal with the Mexican DTOs operating in the county, the Jackson County Commissioners and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department should seek out any and all economic resources they can find from federal, state or local government sources to continue the Sheriff’s Department involvement in the Medford Area Drug Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE) and Southern Oregon Multi-Agency Marijuana Eradication and Reclamation (SOMMER), both effective interagency drug teams fighting foreign drug traffickers operating in the county.
With the number of inmates at the Jackson County Jail having federal immigration detainers also being held for drug crimes, the county’s plans to expand the leasing of additional jail beds to federal law enforcement agencies like ICE and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) is a good place to start in seeking out additional economic resources to fight the Mexican DTOs; the stationing of ICE agents at the jail may actually send a strong message to foreign drug traffickers that the county is no place for foreign drug criminals.
To reduce future drug deaths in the county, to keep the Mexican DTOs in-check, to keep the DTOs from easily distributing DTO drugs, drugs that are killing far too many of the county’s residents, the Commissioners and Sheriff’s Department should continue the county’s strong focus on enforcement of the state’s dugs laws.
Finally, the Jackson County Commissioners and Jackson Sheriff’s Department should put aside any concerns about increased enforcement of the state drug’s laws through a closer working relationship with federal law enforcement agencies like ICE and USMS offending the county’s Hispanic community, many whom are undocumented residents, because the illicit drugs killing the county’s residents don’t discriminate against any one communities race, religion, country of origin or immigration status.
David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.