MCLENNAN COUNTY (October 8, 2013) -- A new unit within the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office that’s solely set up to battle organized crime released new arrest and seizure stats on Tuesday.
The Organized Crime Unit, or simply OCU, was formed in January of this year in part of a campaign promise made by newly elected Sheriff Parnell McNamara.
The OCU specializes in deterring narcotics, gambling, and prostitution. However, helping eradicate the drug trade within McLennan County has become one of their key specialties.
The OCU works with Waco Police’s drug unit along with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The last organized crime unit within the sheriff’s office was dissolved in 2008; one hasn’t been implemented for 5 years.
“The citizens of McLennan County deserve this, and they don't deserve to be preyed on by criminals," Sheriff McNamara said.
The OCU was formed from the ground up by Capt. Shawn Lippe, who admits running into numerous hiccups before he got the unit on its feet.
"It was not easy, I mean, we didn't even have an office space. All we knew was this was something the county needed and it needed to be formed quickly,” Lippe said.
Despite speed bumps, the OCU has been successful in their efforts.
In the past 9 months, they’ve seized nearly $80,000 in drugs, an estimated $214,000 in assets, and nearly 58 drug related arrests have been made.
“For a group of guys who have never done this stuff before, that’s pretty good in my eyes,” Lippe said.
As far as trends go, Lippe says the OCU has been making more heroin seizures than normal. They’ve also been tracking an uptick in pill prescription usage by teenagers within the county.
“We’ve noticed that prescription use has gotten out of control, particularly among kids. We strongly urge parents to be aware of what their children can get their hands on,” Lippe said.
With nearly 3 months left in 2013, McNamara says he only expects arrests and seizures to go up.
“This isn’t a one man show; we have an unbelievable team here. They have exceeded my expectations by far,” McNamara said.