The top-ranking federal law enforcement official in the Western District of Missouri says there’s been an increase in violent crime and in drug trafficking in the western district.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison (2018 photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s website)

A public swearing-in ceremony was held Friday afternoon at Drury University in Springfield for Tim Garrison, who’s a former military prosecutor in the Marine Corps.

“The trend lines in the last several years have not been favorable,” Garrison says. “Methamphetamine is up. Opioids are way up, that trend line is almost vertical.”

Garrison says about 60,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in both 2016 and 2017. He notes that’s more than the 58,000 Americans who died serving during the Vietnam War.

Garrison, who briefed mid-Missouri reporters on Wednesday at the Christopher Bond Courthouse in Jefferson City, says dismantling large drug trafficking operations is a top priority for him.

“So this notion that we’re filling our prisons with non-violent drug offenders is nonsense, at least at the federal level. We’re trying to dismantle organizations. We’re going after significant interstate and international drug traffickers,” says Garrison.

Garrison says he and other federal prosecutors in the Western District are “not after the guy smoking marijuana in his basement.”

He says Mexican cartels are bringing in meth with 95 to 100 percent purity.

Garrison also says Mexican cartels have been selling meth at a loss in Missouri and other Midwestern states, just to maintain market share.

He says when he began prosecuting meth cases in the late 2000s, meth was regularly being sold for $15,000 to $20,000 per pound.

Garrison says it was being sold for about $5,000 a pound in the last meth case he prosecuted, before being appointed U.S. Attorney by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mr. Garrison also confirms there’s a significant presence of “outlaw motorcycle gangs” in southwest Missouri.

The Western District of Missouri includes Kansas City, St. Joseph, Columbia, Jefferson City, Springfield, Joplin and Sedalia.

Cracking down on violent crime is one of the top priorities for the 42-year-old Garrison, who began his work as a federal prosecutor with the Western District in 2007.

He says Missouri has the fifth-highest murder rate in the nation.

“According to FBI crime statistics based on reporting for cities with populations over 100,000, we have three of the top 15 most violent cities on a per capita basis inside the state of Missouri,” Garrison says.

Garrison says those cities are St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield.

He describes the violence issue as a “culture of insult”, adding that social media has been a factor in the violence.

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