Three agents — that’s the number of Drug Task Force (DTF) agents who work in the five counties that make up Tennessee’s Eighth Judicial District: Claiborne, Campbell, Union, Scott and Fentress.
“We need help. We need your help,” said Tony Clark on Sunday at the Stand in the Gap Coalition (SIGCO) meeting. Clark is the director of the Drug Task Force.
The DTF agents work mainly with narcotics, he said, adding that 98 percent of the drugs confiscated by agents over the past year were actually prescription medications.
Once DTF agents get a tip, it sometimes takes awhile for the public to see the results they might be looking for. Don’t give up and don’t stop calling in tips, he said.
“We have to follow the law and they don’t have to,” Clark said. “You might give us a tip and it takes three or six months, or even a year or two to make an arrest. That’s because we have to be able to prove our case in a court of law.”
The agents work with local law enforcement to do as much as they can to get rid of the problem, he told the audience.
“Just because you don’t see us or don’t hear about us doesn’t mean we’re not there,” he assured everyone.
The biggest problem the DTF has is a lack of funding, he said, adding that they receive $60,000 to run the task force. The remainder needed comes from the seizure of drug property.
“This past year, we spent $100,000 purchasing narcotics,” he said, adding that those were used to help build the cases.
In an area suffering from the loss of jobs and a poor economy, some people see dealing as an easy way to make money.
“A 30 mg Roxycodone pill sells for $30 to $40 on the street,” Clark said. “We just need more help, more people.”
The drug problem hits everyone — no one is immune, he emphasized.
“If you don’t have someone in your family, or if you don’t know someone affected by drug abuse, you will,” he said.
Clark emphasized the need for people to come forward with information — the more specific, the better. Leaving a name and number to call for more information is best, but you can also leave an anonymous tip. For either, call 423-566-5843 (8th Judicial DTF) or 866-424-4382 (UNITE). With everyone’s help, including the community, law enforcement and the judicial system, the problem will slow down and hopefully stop.
“My goal is to put myself out of a job,” he said.
The audience at LMU’s Tex Turner Arena also saw a PowerPoint on the entire SIGCO movement, presented by Dan Spurlock. He explained how the grassroots, non-denominational movement began in 2010, leading up to the march on November 6, 2011, that ended with thousands gathered in Cumberland Gap.
“It’s about trusting in God, trusting in miracles, trusting in scriptures,” he said.
The presentation will soon be available on the coalition’s Facebook page and on YouTube. It includes the group’s current projects and goals. What began as a small group now consists of eight counties: Campbell, Claiborne, Hancock, Hawkins, Scott and Union counties in Tennessee; Lee County, Va., and Bell County.
The next meeting of Stand in the Gap will be Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. at LMU’s Tex Turner Arena. Thefollowing Sunday (Sept. 23) will be “March for a Miracle” in Lee County. That group will begin at Jonesville Middle School at 2 p.m. and march to Cumberland Bowl Park. Everyone is urged to attend.
For more information on SIGCO, office hours are 9 a.m. until noon, Monday through Friday. The office is located in Cumberland Gap City Hall. The office phone number is 423-300-1302 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.