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Cops: Repeat drug offenders more common than first-timers

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Jun 06 2013 12:44:41 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 06 2013 11:05:15 AM CDT

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

On Wednesday night, an Oregon man is in the the Bonneville County Jail for the third time on drug charges

Garrett Gafford, 22, was arrested at 6:30 on Tuesday night for possession of heroin. He was previously arrested and booked into the Bonneville County Jail on numerous drug-related charges on separate occasions in May and March.

The arrests had our station asking:

How many arrests does it take for a repeat offender to stay behind bars?

When Gafford was pulled over on G and Center Streets in Idaho Falls, he was already facing two sets of serious drug trafficking charges.     
 
Bonneville Sheriff Sgt. Karl Noah said his office works drug arrests in the county on a weekly basis. They see many familiar faces.

"From what I've seen, from the reports I've read, it's more common to find a repeat offender than a new offender," said Noah.

Noah said most drug arrests usually start the same way.

"Traffic stops, a traffic violation of some sort," he said.
 
From there, Noah said it's easy for law enforcement to spot a repeat drug offender.
     
"We can usually tell when they're using, if they're using, because we've had prior dealings with them that way," said Noah.
 
After the arrest, the case goes down the hall to Prosecuting Attorney Bruce Pickett.

"If they are already facing felony charges and risk a second or even a third felony, to us just indicates how much of a problem they have," said Pickett.

Pickett said Gafford was free because he was able to post a $20,000 bond after his second arrest.

That's why a much harder line has been taken with his third offense.
     
"Because he was re-arrested, a different bond has been set at $100,000 dollars," said Pickett. "The court will take an incremental approach to that many times. If they see there's a greater problem, they will make it more difficult for that person to get out of jail."

Considering Gafford's latest arrest as a case study, it seems the hefty $100,000 bond is keeping him in jail.

So, here's what we learned:

Yes -- area law enforcement faces repeat drug offenders often.
Yes -- prosecutors do take a harder line on repeat offenders.

Gafford is due in court in July for his May arrest.

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