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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
February 27, 2004

For Information Contact:
Richard M. Woodfork
Public Information Officer
(504) 840-1360

Operation Clean Sweep

FEB 27Dunn Lampton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, Marshall Fisher, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Jackson, United States Marshal Nehemiah Flowers, Mississippi Highway Patrol Chief Melvin Curtis, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director George Phillips, Warren County District Attorney Gil Martin, Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin, Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffitt and Jackson Police Chief Robert Moore, announce the implementation of this District’s Drug Demand Initiative.

Labeled “Operation Clean Sweep”, the initial phase of this Initiative was conducted this month in Jackson and Vicksburg, resulting in 165 total arrests, 121 of which were drug related. The vast majority of these arrests were for violations of federal and state drug possession laws, not drug trafficking laws. While the District Attorneys in Hinds and Warren counties will prosecute the majority of the possession cases due to the fact that State laws provide stiffer penalties for simple possession offenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute the sales cases that would normally be declined. Additionally, the many arrests for possession of misdemeanor amounts of marijuana will be handled by either the Justice or City courts.

Of the 133 arrests made in Jackson, 28 were within our designated Weed and Seed area. The Jackson Weed and Seed area, located in Southwest Jackson, has recently doubled in size. This is an area where federal funds are being utilized to help weed out crime and seed the area with new opportunities for its residents. “Because of our continuing support of the Jackson Weed and Seed site, this area will always receive special attention from my office in any operations targeting illegal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Lampton.

The purpose of the national and this district’s Drug Demand Reduction Initiative is to reduce the demand for illegal drugs. President Bush has made it one of his top priorities to reduce the demand for controlled substances. “Operation Clean Sweep” is in response to that request. State law enforcement agencies and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state and federal prosecutors are combining their efforts in attacking the demand component of the war on drugs, recognizing that individual drug users are a serious part of the drug problem. Larry Thompson, former Deputy Attorney General of the Justice Department, noted that when we enlist the assistance of source countries, like Colombia and Mexico, to help us in our struggle to stem the supply of drugs entering our country, they often remind us of our equally important obligation to reduce our nation’s demand for illegal drugs.

“The individual drug user is a big part of our nation’s drug problem. Without the demand for illegal drugs, there would be no drug cartels, no property crimes to finance an addict’s drug habit, no turf wars over who sells drugs where, and no deaths on our highways caused by drivers impaired by drugs. Without the demand for illegal drugs, taxpayers would not be saddled with the expense of establishing drug treatment programs, treating drug overdoses, and providing for families whose breadwinner is addicted to drugs and unable to maintain employment to support his or her family.” Said U.S. Attorney Lampton.

“We fully understand that a majority of our law enforcement resources and time must be and should be directed to the interruption, seizure and prosecution of major drug shipments and dealers. We are here today to serve notice on those who purchase and use illegal drugs that law enforcement will be focusing a part of our anti-drug efforts on drugs purchased and possessed for personal use,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Marshall Fisher.

Without the cooperation of state and federal agencies, “Operation Clean Sweep” would never have gotten off the ground, and these arrests would never have taken place. On the surface, these arrests would seem to be minor violations of the controlled substance laws. However, they are an important part of “Operation Clean Sweep,” and all of the agencies present have participated in the initiative. This is the only phase of the Initiative. We will continue to develop new and innovative strategies, including law enforcement operations, which will focus on the individual user.

“Each of us hope Operation Clean Sweep will send a message to cause some of those who use illegal drugs to reconsider the consequence of being arrested and prosecuted, and simply stop being a part of the drug problem. For those who don’t get the message and are caught with illegal drugs, they will be unable to say we did not warn them of the consequences,” stated Lampton.

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