North Alabama's Drug Addiction: Law enforcement finding more drugs, conducting more busts

In 2020 alone, The North Alabama Drug Task Force seized more than $8.4 Million worth of drugs and nearly 250,000 grams of illegal substances.

Posted: Sep 16, 2021 4:28 PM
Updated: Sep 16, 2021 6:16 PM

In North Alabama, every single county has some type of drug task force.

Each face their own set of unique obstacles, but the goal is the same – to keep you safe.

"It's a task force where we're having to attend to a 14-, 15-men drug unit,” Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said.

Over in DeKalb County, agents are finding more drugs in car trunks than in homes.

"Kind of a broad band of people from other states and areas coming through our county that are possibly trafficking illegal drugs,” DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said.

Namely Atlanta, on their way to places like Huntsville, Birmingham or Nashville.

"That's one reason why we created our criminal interdiction unit which has been very successful of putting a stop to a lot of that,” Welden said.

That criminal interdiction unit started three years ago. Since then, DeKalb County has seen a 300 percent increase in drug arrests. Major crimes have dropped by a third.

"Our worst problem coming in, we knew coming in would be drugs so we beefed up the task force," Welden said.

The sheriff took WAAY 31 along on a warrant roundup day, mostly surrounding drug-related crimes.

The sheriff’s officed served 75 warrants and put 40 people in handcuffs that day. It was quick action to stop more crime in the future.

"Something I always like to tell people is drugs in my opinion of 22 years in law enforcement is definitely the root of all crime,” Welden said.

If traffickers are able to get drugs through DeKalb County and into Huntsville, the North Alabama Drug Task Force is waiting for them.

"We have to stay in front of it because if we don't we will be caught behind. We're always trying to catch up to their game," Huntsville Police Capt. Jerry King said.

This task force is part of Huntsville Police, which also works closely with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and even the FBI.

"Work outside the area of the immediate Huntsville metro and we're having some success getting fentanyl and heroin before it even gets here," Jason Ramsey, HIDA Task Force Commander said.

Sheriff Turner said his county is a drug hub. It now includes the state’s most populated city, which means more people and, eventually, more drugs in the community.

"The Fentanyl you talked about, heroin, the ice, the methamphetamines. It just comes in bigger volumes,” Turner said. “I mean the more population you get, the more people is here.”

King agrees.

"The growth of Huntsville and the economic base we have is a perfect market for drug dealers to take advantage of," King said.

In 2020 alone, the North Alabama Drug Task Force seized more than $8.4 million in drugs and nearly 250,000 grams of illegal substances.

"Their main priority is to be proactive and to take as many drugs and guns off the streets. It's been a big-time success for us," Sheriff Turner said.

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