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And the drug busts just keep on comin'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Editor's note: For a related story, see "BCSO's spate of drug-related arrests".)

In the last several weeks, deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office have seen a spike in drug-related cases throughout the county, according to Chief Deputy Richard Smith.

Earlier last week, Capt. Charlie Hicks released a report detailing 12 cases from Dec. 2, 2011 to Sunday, Jan. 15, that had culminated in arrests on drug charges.

Although he had no explanation for the large number of recent busts, Smith said, "When you look back at statistics from previous years, historically December through March have had historically high numbers of drug-related arrests."

Ironically, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, deputies logged even more drug-related arrests.

On that day, BCSO deputies assisted officers with the 216th Judicial District Adult Probation Department conduct a home visit that resulted in a probationer being arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

After securing a search warrant from Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Lynn Holt, law enforcement personnel executed a search at a residence in the 300 block of Davis Drive.

Deputies discovered approximately 3.5 grams of ICE methamphetamine, digital scales and packaging materials. "Ice" is a large crystal form of high-purity methamphetamine hydrochloride.

It derives its name from its appearance - large, clear crystals that resemble chunks of ice, shards of broken glass or rock candy.

Also located were several suspected drugs, including Valium, that had been packaged to indicate the suspect, Donald Wayne Cox, had planned to sell the purported drugs.

As a result of the search, Cox, 56, was arrested and charged with manufacture and possession with intent to deliver over one gram, but less than four grams, of Penalty Group 1 methamphetamine, a first degree felony.

To establish penalties for violations of Chapter 481 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, controlled substances are divided into Penalty Groups 1 through 4. According to Capt. Charlie Hicks those included in Penalty Group 1 are considered the most dangerous. "These drugs are highly addictive and have limited medical use," he explained.

According to reports, Cox may also face charges of possession with intent to distribute dangerous drugs.

"The additional charges will be filed at large if we receive positive confirmation from the Department of Public Safety labs that the pills confiscated are actually listed as dangerous drugs in the Texas Health and Safety Code - and not a simulated pill," Smith said.

Late during the evening of Jan. 17, BCSO Deputy DJ Nowlin stopped a vehicle in the 500 block of Montague Drive in the City of Bandera for a traffic infraction. During the stop, Nowlin smelled a strong odor of burned marijuana coming from the vehicle.

During a search of the vehicle, all of the occupants were found to be in possession of marijuana. As a result, Jonathan Aguirre, 17; Joseph Crowder, 40; and Avery Watt, 18, were arrested and charged with possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and transported to the Bandera County Jail.

Smith continued, "I want to let all the citizens of Bandera County that our deputies will continue the pursuit of a drug-free community through strict enforcement and community-based programs such as DARE."

A law enforcement officer-led program of classroom lessons, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) teaches students from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug- and violence-free lives. This highly acclaimed nation-wide program gives children and youth the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence.

(Sources: www.jcsd.org/Meth.htm, http://ibt.tamhsc.edu and www.dare.com)