By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin and the Belknap County Police Chiefs Association have announced the formation of a Belknap County Drug Task Force which will target drug dealers who are operating in the county.
"Our goal is enforcement. We have to arrest these people who are selling this stuff which is killing our people," Wiggin said as he spoke at the Alton Town Hall Thursday morning following a meeting of the police chiefs organization at which the cooperative effort was discussed.
Wiggin said that low-level drug dealers who are "sneaking through the cracks" and bringing fentanyl-laced opioids into the county from places like New York City and Lawrence, Massachusetts, will be the main targets of the effort, which he said is focused on drug dealers and not those using drugs.
He said the countywide effort will be coordinated out of his department and will involve the sharing of information and joint investigations which will see local police officers deputized as part of the task force, which he said is similar to drug task forces already in operation in Stafford and Grafton counties.
"We already have these connections between departments and want to want to share information and work together on investigations. This increases our capabilities," said Wiggin,, who said the task force will also work closely with State Police and federal agencies to cut down the flow of drugs into the area.
He said that the drug overdoses claimed over 400 lives in New Hampshire last year and that thee were about 30 in Belknap County, as well as many near fatal incidents.
"It's a serious problem we have to deal with. We know we can't arrest our way out of the problem and that there have to be treatment and education programs for drug users," said Wiggin. But he said that drug users who are also selling drugs will be among the targets.
His department will soon have a new vehicle which will remain unmarked and will be used in undercover operations.
County Commissioners agreed Tuesday morning to his request to accept the vehicle, which was seized by Stafford County in a civil forfeiture action and made available to other law enforcement agencies.
Wiggin said that the unmarked vehicle will be used undercover operations as part of an expanded role by the department in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies in drug investigations.
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