MOULTRIE -- Creating an immediate interim solution to the county's illicit drug trade, Colquitt County Sheriff Al Whittington deputized Moultrie police officers Monday. It's a significant step toward a planned joint drug task force forged by the two agencies.

The sheriff swore in Moultrie Police Chief Frank Lang, new to the post, and the entire investigative unit, comprised of four officers. Two additional police officers will receive those powers of arrest later this week to add to the current county Drug Enforcement Team of four agents and one supervisor.

"Mainly with the introduction of methamphetamine, we've not had the time to devote to street-level buys, and that's what we want to get back to," the sheriff said. "Chief Lang has been very receptive to this plan."

The city and county must first hash out legalities before a joint drug squad can be formed. A former collaborative unit was dissolved under Whittington's immediate predecessor, former Sheriff Jack Lanier.

The sheriff said a joint squad would give additional manpower to the war on drugs and could qualify for additional state or federal funding.

"The sheriff and I, we're ready to go to work," Lang said. "It's certainly my desire to curtail the illegal drug trade as much as possible, so we can cut down on all crime."

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