Investigators Changing Tactics To Catch Drug Dealers

Nearly $40,000 worth of Marijuana, 32 pounds in all, is off the streets tonight and so is the man accused of trying to sell it.

The Hancock County Narcotics Task Force arrested 57-year-old Charles Lieurance Tuesday after they say he attempted to sell the pot to an undercover narcotics agent.

"His vehicle was broke down. He had it repaired and he was fixing to leave Waveland in route to Florida and ran across a potential buyer for the marijuana," Assistant Task Force Director Bubba Malley said.

That buyer turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent.

"We made a little interception there. His bad luck, our good luck."

Good luck because it's becoming more difficult for narcotics agents to make what they call "buy busts."

"The suspects are getting harder to infiltrate. They're being more cautious. They don't know who to trust."

Task Force Director Matt Karl echoed his words.

"It's just a little harder for us to put things together, but we're going to do it."

Karl says drug pushers and makers have become more sophisticated and more cautious of who they deal with. As a result, he says, it sometimes takes longer to get on the inside of a dealer's operation.

"Sometimes it takes 24 hours, sometimes a year and a half to get somebody in there to infiltrate these people, or for us to get enough probable cause to run a search warrant. We've got to change our tactics. They change theirs, we change ours. We get the job done one way or another."

"Last year at this time, we had 72 cases. This year we have 77, so it's working."

The task force ended up with 140 drug cases last year. Karl says topping that number will mean working smarter and harder.

As for Charles Lieurance, he is being held in the Hancock County Jail under a $150,000 bond. If convicted he could face up to 30 years behind bars.

by Al Showers