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SpecialFrom left, Pickens County Sheriff Donnie Craig, CMANS Director Phil Price and Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.

The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad and the Pickens Sheriff’s Office have officially joined forces to combat the ongoing opioid, heroin and methamphetamine crisis in both counties.

Last week, Pickens County Sheriff Donnie Craig signed a memorandum of understanding with CMANS, which takes effect immediately.

“This partnership is ideal because much of our illegal drug activity travels the Interstate 575 and Georgia 515 corridor and surrounding areas,” Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Monday. “Through the partnership, we will be able to investigate drug activity more efficiently, as well as augment personnel and resources.”

Reynolds and Craig met more than a month ago to discuss the partnership between the two counties to help mitigate heroin, opioids and methamphetamine being brought into both communities. The memorandum of understanding also provides for Pickens County to fund two agent positions, the support of a police dog and handler and a uniformed deputy to CMANs. The partnership may also give the narcotics unit the ability to qualify for federal grants for additional funding.

“Partnering with CMANS is a wonderful opportunity for the Pickens Sheriff’s Office to continue the partnership with Cherokee County,” Craig said. “We have previously developed partnerships in the multi-agency SWAT team, and we have joined forces in hostage negotiations as well. We are very excited to work closely with their team to expand the available resources necessary to make a difference in the enforcement of drug cases.”

CMANS Director Phil Price will lead the narcotics unit for both counties, with a deputy commander in each county. Price has led CMANS for nearly a decade after retiring from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 2006. He spent 29 years with the GBI, with his final position there being Special Agent-In-Charge for the drug enforcement of the northern third of the state.

Formed in 1993, CMANS is a multi-jurisdictional drug task force and is governed by a control board with representatives from Woodstock Police, Holly Springs Police, Canton Police, Ball Ground Police, the District Attorney’s Office of the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, the Georgia State Patrol and the Cherokee Marshal’s Office.

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