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Undercover investigation targets suspected drug dealers
PORT ARTHUR - by Lauren Huet
The Port Arthur Police Department is rounding up 54 suspected drug dealers after finishing an 8 month undercover investigation. The investigation targeted street level and mid-level drug dealers. Police say cocaine and meth are the biggest problems, and in the last year and a half meth use has grown by leaps and bounds.
Lawrence Vaughn is a resident pastor at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur. He says drug abuse is not just a problem in Port Arthur, it's a problem everywhere, and it hurts the community.
"Crime, jail, and all of those other things that happen as a result of substance abuse," said Pastor Vaughn. "I think those are realities that become real evident in the life of a family, children."
Pastor Vaughn says the church needs to reach out and help.
"One of the nonprofit programs that we run here at the church is a program called 'Help, I'm Hurt,'" said Pastor Vaughn. "Which is a program that's designed to help people wherever they are and to meet them wherever they are to help them get out of whatever the situation is."
A narcotics supervisor with the Port Arthur Police Department, who can't be identified because he's currently involved in investigations, says that drugs are a huge problem in Port Arthur. Recently, large quantities of methamphetamine have been coming into the area from Mexico.
"Probably the most prevalent drug we encounter is crack cocaine, but the past year we have seen a major increase in the methamphetamine trade as well," said the narcotics supervisor.
Members of the Narcotics Unit ended an 8 month undercover drug investigation April 7th. Detectives filed and received 54 warrants. The Narcotics Unit and SWAT team served 10 of those warrants on Monday and are searching for the other suspects.
"That's 54 people, drug dealers that we'll take off the street. For a short period of time anyways," said the supervisor.
He says drugs are widespread in Port Arthur.
"It's all over. The crack cocaine concentration tends to be in the downtown areas, but just about anywhere in the city, we can go buy drugs anywhere in the city," said the supervisor.
The supervisor says crime comes hand in hand with drugs.
"My personal opinion, I think probably the vast majority of any crime committed revolves around the drug trade," said the supervisor. "Whether it be burglaries, robberies, thefts, assaults. Most people don't realize that."
Pastor Vaughn believes if the community works together, and the church forms partnerships with the city and other organizations, they can lessen the drug problem.
"We don't always see the big results that we want, but I think if we can just really work at it, if it's nothing more than one block at a time, I think we really got to work towards making those things happen," said Pastor Vaughn.