Payson police officers continue to breathe down the necks of drug dealers.
A high-risk drug search warrant was served on a residence in the 400 block of S. Ponderosa at 7:51 p.m. Jan. 24. Anthony M. Deck, 37, Michelle M. Duffy, 18, and AnnaLisa Aguinaga, 24, were taken into custody on numerous drug charges, including possession of dangerous drugs for sale.
Two small children who were in the home were turned over to child protective services.
The search yielded more than two ounces of methamphetamine with a street value of $3,500, and 14 ounces of marijuana valued at $500. Police also found two handguns in the residence, as well as a large amount of cash.
Lt. Don Engler said detectives from the department began an investigation into suspected drug dealing by Deck and his associates in August 2001.
"With the amount of drugs found, they are considered to be major dealers," Engler said.
Deck was booked into the Gila County Jail on charges of possession of dangerous drugs, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia and misconduct with a weapon.
Duffy and Aguinaga were charged with possession of marijuana for sale, possession of dangerous drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to Engler, the police department has stepped up enforcement that has impacted the trafficking of illegal drugs within the town limits.
The police department for years had two officers assigned to the Gila County Narcotics Task Force, working in conjunction with several other agencies countywide. However, in July 2001, Chief Gordon Gartner made the decision, with the support of the town council, to pull out of the task force and concentrate on the drug trafficking within his department's jurisdiction.
"It appears the people dealing drugs in town are feeling the pressure of the police department investigations unit as they are moving their operations outside the city limits," Engler said. "We are going to continue to pursue these people who deal drugs in our community."
Engler said methamphetamine is a huge problem in Payson and, in his opinion, has replaced marijuana as the drug of choice.
Methamphetamine is an illegal drug whose consistency is derived from chemicals such as acetone, ethanol, hydriodic acid, lithium, phosphorus, benzyl cyanide and a variety of other highly flammable and caustic chemicals. The final product is ingested by snorting, smoking or by injection with a hypodermic needle.