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Orange County Focus

GARDEN GROVE : 2 Cars Give Up Life of Crime, Aid Police

September 24, 1993|ROBERT BARKER

Two fast and flashy cars that local police officers seized from narcotics dealers have gone over to the other side to join the battle against drugs.

The cars have been turned over to the city's DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program to help officers teach schoolchildren about the danger of drugs. They made their debut at Park View and Edgar elementary schools Wednesday.

When fully equipped, both vehicles will be able to "talk" with youngsters through prerecorded anti-drug messages and a tape. The cars are designed to get the attention of youngsters and create lasting impressions about the anti-drug message, Sgt. George Jaramillo said.

Ed Wilson, one of three DARE officers, said the Camaro he'll be driving can go about 150 m.p.h. It has a bank of blue, amber, white and red flashing lights on the roof.

"The cars are flashy, the kind that drug owners like to have to show off their status," Wilson said. "They also have lots of speed, probably for evading police," he said.

The use of a drug dealer's car in the anti-drug effort "is turning a negative into a positive," he said.

The Garden Grove Rotary Club donated $5,000 to pay for renovating, painting and equipping the two vehicles.

"We're living in a high-tech society," Rotary President Murray Finck said. "These are good-looking cars that will get the attention of the youngsters. I'm pleased how they came out."

"If it makes one child think twice about using drugs, it will be worth it," Finck said.

The Rotarians raised the money from their annual auction last spring.

The Camaro was seized in early 1992 in a case that involved the purchase of about 1 1/2 pounds of methamphetamines, police said.

Two suspects were arrested and several vehicles in addition to the Camaro were seized in the narcotics assets forfeiture program.

The second car, a Pontiac, was taken in 1990, in a case involving a methamphetamine laboratory, according to police.

Eight pounds of drugs were seized and four suspects were arrested. The car was initially used by narcotics detectives as an undercover vehicle.

DARE officers will hold a contest in a month to name the two cars. The two winning youngsters of the 12,000 who attend DARE classes in the Garden Grove Unified School District will get a ride to school in the cars, have lunch with an officer and have a police escort for part of the day.

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