FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics
Contact: Delores Lewis, Public Relations Director
Phone: 601-371-3656

MISSISSIPPI DRUG ARRESTS UP 39% OVER LAST YEAR -
HIGHEST IN THREE YEARS
GOVERNOR CITES REORGANIZATION, AGENTS FOR INCREASE

(Jackson, Miss.) - Governor Haley Barbour along with Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner Rusty Fortenberry and Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) Director George Phillips today said that by streamlining state law enforcement operations, drug arrests are up 39% over last year, the highest in three years.

MBN reported 1,435 drug arrests statewide for the first half of 2004, compared to 1,034 drug arrests for the same period in 2003. The drug agency reported in 2001, there were 1,401 drug arrests; in 2002, there were 1,148 drug arrests; and in 2003, there were 1,034 drug arrests.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but working more efficiently together and with local officials we're making significant strides in fighting drug crimes," said George Phillips.

Recognizing the need for more coordination between state and local law enforcement, Governor Barbour restructured his Administration so that the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics reports to the Department of Public Safety and increased interaction with local law enforcement.

MBN officials point to this restructuring and other new initiatives to explain the agency's turnaround. MBN launched a pilot drug-enforcement program that combines the resources of state and local agencies to investigate drug crimes, from street-level drug dealing to organized drug-trafficking operations.

Governor Barbour outlined the drug-fighting plan in his State of the State Address in January: "uniting our forces in fighting drugs provides more support to local law enforcement across the state," he said. During the 2004 legislative session, lawmakers agreed, and a bill was passed formalizing the restructuring of the two departments.

"Fighting drug crime is a top priority, and I'm proud that these two agencies have rolled up their sleeves and worked together to fight Mississippi's drug epidemic," said Governor Barbour. "Drug arrests are significantly up and I credit this to the hard work of the folks at MBN and DPS."

"As former First Lady Nancy Reagan said, 'there is no moral middle ground, indifference is not an option. We must be unyielding and inflexible in our opposition to drugs.' Illegal drugs are a cancer on our society and we must be vigilant in our efforts to get them off the street," said Rusty Fortenberry.

MBN has also revived a multi-agency drug interdiction program, which includes various state and local agencies, to address drug couriers'
use of federal highways, transportation and shipping systems for transporting contraband into and through Mississippi.

Also at today's announcements, Governor Barbour, Phillips, and Fortenberry displayed seized contraband from previous drug arrests including cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and assorted firearms.

 


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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741