Elko County has received its first round of tax revenue from statewide marijuana sales, and has put the money to good use.
The county’s share of $88,000 was budgeted for an additional narcotics officer. This means that Nevada’s marijuana tax dollars are being used to reduce trafficking of dangerous drugs such as meth, heroin and cocaine.
County Commissioner Rex Steninger explained that marijuana tax money is divided into two pots, with one pot split among the counties based on population. This is happening even though commissioners banned the sale of marijuana in the county’s unincorporated areas. Steninger and Commissioner Jon Karr were outnumbered 3-2 in that decision.
The county hired a second deputy to dedicate to the narcotics task force, which includes a sergeant, a state detective and a police officer.
Sgt. Mark Conley told the Elko Daily Free Press that the Elko Combined Narcotics Unit seized more than $1.36 million worth of narcotics between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018. He credited the team’s success partly to the addition of the second deputy.
The task force’s value came up for discussion during the recent forum featuring candidates for Elko County Sheriff.
Sgt. Aitor Narvaiza, who is challenging incumbent Sheriff Jim Pitts, suggested that a deputy who was reassigned from Wendover to the narcotics unit should be returned to patrol. Pitts countered that West Wendover has its own police force, and that the extra narcotics officer was making a difference.
“Since I increased the manpower there,” Pitts said, “they went from 71 arrests the year before to 124 arrests last year, so that’s where I think if we are going to fight drugs, we need to do it there.”
Pitts cited figures