NEVADA, MO.--- Limited federal funding forces the Vernon County Task Enforcement Team to cutback on undercover investigators. Deputies say it puts the burden back on the local sheriff's departments to basically fight a national drug problem without the funding.
"Without the undercover, it's almost impossible to take care of the meth problem," said Shayne Simmons, Vernon County Chief Deputy.
Vernon County Chief Deputy Shayne Simmons says undercover investigators allow local law enforcement to tackle the drug problems in their counties.
"You know, a lot of people don't think small areas with small law enforcement agencies have big drug problems. You drop that into a population of 22,000 like out of county every week, that's all our crime rate. We have a big drug problem," said Simmons.
The CNET Drug Task Force, which is operated by five county sheriffs offices, including Vernon County, has drastically changed. Deputies say in the past, the grants have provided an undisclosed separate building with at least five undercover investigators and a receptionist. Today, there's only one full time investigator and a part time deputy investigator from each county working out of the sheriff's office.
"When it comes time to setup the sting or the drug bust, there's just not enough of them now. So, the sheriff's department is having to pull people off the road or wherever we can spare the man power at, to send them out to make the bust," said Jason Mosher, Vernon County Sheriff.
Deputies say cutting down the drug problem cuts down crime, but they can't make as many drug bust without undercover investigators.
"It makes it harder but, all the sheriffs that I work with are determine that we are going to keep fighting the drug problem and if the funding gets cut, we'll just keep stepping up as much as we can to make up for it," said Sheriff Mosher.
According to the DEA, Missouri ranks number one in the nation for having the most meth incidents including labs, dumpsites, chemical and glass equipment. Almost 2,000 incidents took place last year.
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