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Hauge says drug crimes are on the rise

"The results are in, and they're not pretty. Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge announced Friday, May 4, that his office processed 28 percent more drug-related cases in the first quarter of this year than last year.Hauge attributes the rise in drug cases to a growing wave of methamphetamine use and distribution. A three-year study Hauge's office released in December 2000 also indicated prosecutors were dealing with more drug cases.Hauge said if the trend continues, he might create a special drug unit within the Prosecutor's Office. The unit could be similar to a sexual assault unit already established there.In a perfect world, I would ask for an additional deputy prosecutor right now, said Hauge, who has two deputy prosecutors assigned to manage drug cases. But I am not certain we can do that because there are so many needs in the county.From January through March 2000, 412 drug-related cases were referred to the Prosecutor's Office; during the same time in 2001, 529 drug-related cases were referred to prosecutors.Lawmakers introduced several bills in Olympia this year to combat meth. Rep. Brock Jackley, D-26th District, sponsored a bill that restricts the sale of precursor over-the-counter drugs, such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are used to create meth. Jackley's bill also would require pharmacists to keep records of such sales. Hauge said such legislation would be a positive development, but more is required to combat the meth epidemic.To that end, Hauge helped form the Kitsap Drug Interdiction Task Force, composed of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, educators, lawyers and other community members. The task force has been meeting since January.Officials said meth is more addictive than other illegal substances, easy to make, cheap to buy and easy to obtain. Statistics show that when meth use increases, rates of crimes like theft or assault also go up. "

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