As compared with 2005, "we are on pace this year to double the number of methamphetamine prosecutions," said Catherine Hanaway, U.S. attorney for the eastern district.
Hanaway met with Darren Cann, Mississippi County prosecuting attorney, and Keith Moore, Mississippi County sheriff, Thursday to discuss how enhanced federal sentences can assist state and local law enforcement in the prosecution of methamphetamine crimes.
"We talked about the drug situation and the meth and different things she can do to help," Moore said. "I can call her anytime and she'll assist us in any way possible. We had a pretty good conversation. She's offering good assistance for us."
Hanaway said she also met with officials in Scott and Wayne counties Thursday and with prosecuting attorneys and sheriffs of Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties on Wednesday.
"I'm trying to visit all 49 prosecutors in our district," she explained. "I want to make sure the prosecutors and sheriffs know we're here if you need us. ... When you want us, call us."
Cann said he is looking forward to continuing to work together with the U.S. Attorney's office.
"We have had a great working relationship," Hanaway said. "Mr. Cann really seems to deploy all the resources he has available."
In November, Hanaway announced her Methamphetamine Initiative and its significant changes in the approach to federal methamphetamine prosecution to local officials at the Clinton community building in Sikeston.
During the November visit, Hanaway said she wanted to make face-to-face contact with county prosecutors within her district to build cooperative relationships on methamphetamine cases in an effort to get drug dealers and manufacturers out of the communities for as long as possible.
Hanaway said she has met with about two thirds of those 49 prosecutors so far, beginning in the northeast area as there is no U.S. Attorney branch office there.
The Methamphetamine Initiative was introduced to assist local law enforcement and county prosecutors in their war against meth by encouraging more federal prosecutions, according to Hanaway.
Defendants in methamphetamine cases often receive longer sentences in federal court than in state court, serving a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence.
As part of this initiative, the U.S. Attorney's Office lowered the criteria for federal cases related to methamphetamine so that many of the cases that previously would have been prosecuted at the state level can now be prosecuted federally.
Before this initiative, policy had been for the feds to only handle cases involving 25 grams of pure methamphetamine, leaving smaller amounts to local prosecution, according to Hanaway.
Typical federal methamphetamine-related sentences are now five years in prison for five grams of pure methamphetamine and 10 years for 50 grams. For methamphetamine mixtures, 50 grams carries a prison sentence of five years and a sentence of up to 10 years for 500 grams.