Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Men Busted for Meth Lab at New River Gorge National River

Are our parks becoming safe zones for drug runners?

Earlier this month the U.S. Forest Service published a guide titled: What to do if you encounter a marijuana cultivation site in a National Forest. Then earlier this week Mammoth Cave National Park announced that they will be offering rewards to stop crime within park boundaries. The press release included a quote from Ranger David Alexander, one of the park's law enforcement officers: "Drug activity is a major concern. Every year we find marijuana plots in the park."

Now comes this report from NPS Digest that two men were pulled over for speeding while driving on US 19 by a Summersville PD officer. The officer observed a one-bottle meth cook going on inside and called the Central West Virginia Drug Task Force. Officers learned that the men were staying at the Tailwaters Campground in Gauley River NRA and went there to continue the drug investigation. A search of the tents and campsite revealed precursors of meth production. Both men were arrested and arraigned last Friday in state court. A third man supposedly involved has not been identified yet. The investigation continues, as rangers gather case information from drug task force officers. Both suspects had just gotten out of prison and have meth charges in their criminal histories.

This isn't an isolated incidence of meth production in a national park. Just last year rangers in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area arrested four people in possession of a meth lab.

Bears, mountain lions, snakes and poisen ivy aren't the only things you need to keep your eye on while out on the trail anymore....



Jeff said...

Increasing illegal activities in national parklands along the U.S. border put park resources, and park staff, at risk.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona is on the front line. Over the last 2 years, park rangers have arrested and indicted 385 felony smugglers, seized 40,000 lbs. of marijuana, and intercepted 3,800 illegal aliens. The Border Patrol estimated that 500 people per day (180,000 per year) and 700,000 pounds of drugs entered the U.S. illegally through the monument per year. (cite)

Even the National Park Service warns tourists to be very wary within their own national monument:

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument shares the border with Mexico for 30 miles. This is a remote region.

Visitors should be aware that drug smuggling routes pass through the park. If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene. Note your location. Call 911 or report it to a ranger as quickly as possible.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Jeff - great info. I new Organ Pipe was used as a major route, but wasn't aware of those stats. Parks in the SW, especially in CA have a lot of problems with drigs as well.

In my view, I think it's time for the military to get involved, and/or legalize marajuana.