Monday, May 20, 2013

La Paz County Task Force bleeds money while internal feud escalates


This morning, at the La Paz County Board of Supervisor's meeting, (Item 14 on the Agenda) The County Finance Director disclosed that the La Paz County Narcotics Task Force had exceeded it's budget by a whopping $245,000! The Task Force had only brought in about $25,000 in revenue so far this year. The Supervisors had little choice but to amend the current budget, but did not authorize any additional expenditures though the end of the fiscal year, June 30th.

A financial summary provided to the Board showed that the Task Force had $45,000 more in expenditures than in revenue it during the previous fiscal year.

An even more shocking disclosure was made by Sheriff John Drum at "Call to the Public". In a written statement provided exclusively to the Desert Freedom Press, Drum read to the Board, 

"On the evening of May 14th 2013, the Parker Town Council voted to lock up the La Paz County Narcotics Task Force building, denying entry to any other agencies. On that same evening, members of the Parker Police Department entered the Task Force and illegally removed files, computers, guns, buy money and surveillance equipment rendering the unit "crippled" of any law enforcement activity. The reason that this is illegal is that the above listed items were purchased with R.I.C.O. and Federal Grant monies. As of now, the Parker Police Department is working their "own" drug cases (within the Town of Parker).

Over the past 3 years, the Task Force has been under the command of the Parker Police Department. During that time, the Task Force has lost 2 grants (State and Federal), totaling approximately $270,000 a year, R.I.C.O. monies have been over spent, productivity has dropped to a record low and for most of that time, the only officers in the unit were from the Parker Police Department. For those reasons, I felt that it was in the best interest of the citizens of La Paz County that the Sheriff's Office re-establish command and control of the Task Force.

Since I have taken office in January, there have been several meetings with Chief Mendoza from the Parker Police Department, Chief Gilbert from the Quartzsite Police Department and the County Attorney Tony Rogers (the only current voting members on the Task Force Board besides myself). During these meetings, we verbally agreed that a new I.G.A. would be created and the Sheriff's Office would take command of the Task Force on June 1st. A rough draft of this new I.G.A. was presented to the County attorney for his review on April 29th.

We have taken several positive steps forward in an effort to rebuild the La Paz County Task Force. All of these positive steps were nearly destroyed after the events of May 14th. It appears as though the Town of Parker and the Parker Police Department are not in support of a cooperative effort to improve the Narcotics Task Force and their own self-interests supersede the County's overall need for narcotics enforcement.

At this time, the Sheriff's Office intends on continuing forward to build an effective Task Force that will serve everyone within the County. We still intend on creating a unit with all State, Federal and local cooperation. We also intend on signing an intergovernmental Agreement with CRIT so we can assist them with the Narcotic issues on and around the reservation.

In closing I would like to leave you with this: I want to bring more agencies to the table to help us vote on Task Force expenditures. These Agencies (Border Patrol and Riverside County), will not be able to spend Task Force monies on their agencies, they will simply be there as unbiased voting members who have nothing to gain. So you have to ask yourself; why wouldn't the Town of Parker want more unbiased people voting on the Task Force Board? There is only one answer and that is control."

 The meeting minutes for the May 14th Special Meeting of the Parker Council were still not posted on their website by an hour past the close of business today, in violation of Arizona Open Meeting Law, A.R. S. Title 38  431.01 however, the May 14th Parker Special Meeting Council Agenda provided for :

1. Discussion and possible action to convene into an Executive Session pursuant to A.R.S. §
38-431.03A (4) for the purpose of:
a.Discuss or consult with attorneys & representatives of the public body to consider its position and instruct its representatives on the Town of Parker’s position in regards to amending the Intergovernmental Agreement pertaining to the Racketeering Enforcement Task Force. 
and to reconvene the meeting for:
Discussion and possible action on the following item(s)
1. Discussion and Consideration of any motions pertaining to amending the intergovernmental Agreement pertaining to the Racketeering Enforcement Task Force.

The following was question was submitted to the "contact" page for the Town of Parker:
"At the May 14th Special Meeting of the Parker Town Council , did the Council explicitly authorize the Parker Police Department to remove "files, computers, guns, buy money and surveillance equipment" purchased with " R.I.C.O. and Federal Grant monies", from the Task Force office, as alleged by Sheriff John Drum at this morning's Board of Supervisor's Meeting, or was Parker Police Chief Rod Mendoza acting as a rogue agent in this seizure?"

The Desert Freedom Press eagerly awaits their official answer.  

Follow the contentious recent history of the Task Force by reviewing:

Sheriff’s statement on narcotics task force future

New drug task force to be led by Sheriff’s Office

Lawmen exchange words: Quartzsite Police Chief’s rebuttal to Sheriff’s statement

Task Force wars: Sheriff responds




  1. Exclusive? really? think again.

  2. Yes, exclusive, check the time the articles were posted. Parker Live asked, in writing, for permission to reprint the statement by Sheriff Drum, and permission was granted.

  3. The Parker Live article was written the following day.