The Board of Supervisors will review today a proposal to add the Orange County district attorney's office to the list of 11 federal, state and local agencies that have marshaled their forces to bust regional cocaine networks.
With supervisors' approval, the district attorney's office would join Brea police as the Orange County contingent in the Inland Crackdown Allied (INCA) Task Force, a two-year-old coalition that chiefly targets the Colombian drug cartel and Mexico-based cocaine organizations.
Riverside-based INCA is the largest and most successful of the network of crackdown task forces set up statewide in 1991 by the State Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, said INCA supervising special agent Edward Synicky.
INCA, which seized three tons of cocaine in its largest seizure 18 months ago, invited the Orange County prosecutors to join the Riverside-based task force, he said, in part because one-third of its cases were being tried in the county's courts.
INCA's most significant cash seizure case began with the arrest in May of a man in the city of Orange who was carrying more than $1.3 million in his car trunk. That capture, which began as a routine traffic stop, led to further arrests and a final seizure total of $5 million.
Loren DuChesne, chief of the district attorney's investigations bureau, said the addition of his agency to the task force would result in one of his 110 investigators being designated as a full-time member of INCA operations.
The agenda item before the supervisors lists the annual cost of the district attorney's participation as $100,000. DuChesne said that cost that would be completely offset through cash and property seizures made by authorities during drug-related arrests.
"We anticipate that the money recovered through (seizures) will be far in excess of the funding required for that individual, so this won't be costing the county or the district attorney's office anything," he said.
Joining the task force would not markedly change his agency's approach or activities to drug investigations, he said, but it would improve communication and interaction that could lead to more arrests.
Brea Police Capt. Jim Oman said his department's affiliation with the task force since late 1990 has provided a resource of both information and personnel for time-consuming surveillance efforts.
"There's a lot of personnel sharing going on back and forth because, basically, no one agency has enough personnel to handle these things," Oman said.
He said that adding the district attorney's office, which by law has to handle all cases in the county in which a law enforcement agency seeks assets seizure, seems to be a logical way to expand an operation aimed at streamlining bureaucratic procedures.
The other member agencies are the California Highway Patrol, the Riverside Sheriff's Department and the police departments of Chino, Corona, Hemet, Perris and Riverside. The federal agencies involved are the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.