Drug war on Bastrop and Travis County line

It's a big problem on the Bastrop and Travis County line as a drug war is leading to murders, burglaries and assaults.

The Bastrop County Sheriff's Office is working to take care of the issue. It reformed its drug unit in order to handle all of the cases. The expansion was first announced in October when Bastrop and Travis Counties were seeing an alarming number of homicides in Del Valle.

There are five corridors that run through Bastrop County. The sheriff's office says all are being used by the cartel and drug runners.

"What's happening is Austin, Travis County, Wilco, Pflugerville, Round Rock...all of those big agencies have the manpower. They can build large divisions and they can crack down on the narcotics," says Bastrop County Sheriff's Office Deputy Brian Bates. "So what the dealers have done, is they've started selecting smaller urban areas outside of the metropolis to put stash houses and to divvy up what they need and make runs into Austin or wherever they're going."

But the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office is putting a stop to that. They have brought back their drug unit, a unit that used to be inactive. Now there are four officers handling case loads along with the addition of two K-9s in November.

Methamphetamine and heroin are the two most prevalent drugs in the county. Drug dealers have come up with ways to get around being detected such as masking odors.

But Deputy Bryan Reyes says it won't get past a dog's nose. "His breathing will change, his ears will perk up and he'll start to zigzag back and forth. He's trying to locate the odor. once he finds the source of the odor he will go down in a sit."

Both K-9s have already detected narcotics in traffic stops and deputies believe they're gaining momentum and strength. They've already started to see the amounts of drugs get smaller.

Deputy Bates says, "With narcotics you have theft. With theft you have assaults and burglaries and homicides. I think if we tackle the narcotics side of it, it will start, the crime rate will start dropping back down."

There were eight drug-related homicides in Del Valle during September and October: seven in Travis County and one in Bastrop County.

Both agencies have been working together on cases because of the close-proximity to the bodies found. That's when the re-formation of the drug unit began.

Newly appointed Sheriff Maurice Cook has made sure to implement what the former sheriff started. "My goal when I ran was to make Bastrop a safer place to live, work and raise your families. This certainly, if we can control drugs in any way, this will make a safer county for Bastrop."

At the time of this story, seven of the eight homicides remain unsolved.

As for the drug unit, FOX 7 is told this is just the beginning. More additions could be made in the near future.

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