Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Members of a newly reorganized Baker County Drug Task Force arrested two men and seized evidence of methamphetamine distribution after executing search warrants at two west Baker City homes Monday.

No arrests were made at the first home at 3220 14th St., Baker City Police Chief Ray Duman stated in a press release issued Thursday.

Detectives seized evidence related to distribution of methamphetamine and identity theft. Police found scales and packaging materials as well as multiple drivers licenses and Social Security cards, Duman said.

The warrant was issued on Aug. 5 after Briney failed to appear for a plea hearing on a May charge of possessing methamphetamine, Baker County Circuit Court documents state.

Both men were taken to the Baker County Jail Monday. Radle was granted a conditional release Tuesday and Briney was granted a conditional release Thursday, according to jail records.

Duman said both investigations are ongoing and more information will be released later.

The Baker County Drug Task Force includes detectives from the Baker City Police Department, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the Baker County District Attorney’s Office.

Duman said the Baker City Police Department, under his leadership, is working to re-establish the Task Force in cooperation with the other agencies, all of which have funding available to pay for drug investigations.

Duman, a retired OSP officer, åbegan working as interim city police chief July 1. He replaced former chief Dustin Newman who resigned to take a job with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. Newman had worked for that agency for 14 years before moving to Baker City in 2014 to work as a police officer. Newman was named chief in 2018.

“We’re going to try to keep doing this,” Duman said Thursday of the Task Force investigations. “Hopefully the community will start to recognize (the benefit of having an active task force) and that starts to build support for keeping the Drug Team operational.”

Duman’s 27 -year career with OSP included serving for 13 years in Baker City as lieutenant of the agency’s Eastern Region Criminal Division.

He said Thursday that he is working to bring the police department up to full staff, which will include adding another retired OSP officer to the roster on Oct. 1. Sgt. Ty Duby will join the city police staff as a lieutenant on that date, upon retiring from his longtime OSP career.

As police chief, Duman says he will be working to provide more flexibility for city officers to work drug cases in the future.

“I’ve noticed it’s been an ongoing issue over the last couple of years as everybody’s resources got real tight,” he said of increased drug trafficking in the community. “We’re here to put the lid back on the garbage can.”

Duman said he doesn’t expect to totally solve the drug problem, but he hopes to slow it down and thereby also reduce property crimes that in most cases are drug-related.

He hopes that members of the drug community will take notice of the increased police pressure aimed at curtailing their activities.

“We want to remove them from the community,” Duman said.

“We’ll run them out of town (based on the increased enforcement efforts) or get them convicted and sent to prison,” he said.

In 2017, the Oregon Legislature reduced the charge for personal-use possession of certain drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine and heroine from a felony to a misdemeanor. Unlawful distribution of methamphetamine remains a felony crime, however, Duman pointed out.

“We’re going to keep putting pressure on these people and prioritize our call load,” he said. “If we do this we will make a better livability for the community.”

The evidence will be submitted to the Baker County District Attorney’s Office for possible indictment, Duman said. He declined to identify residents at that address pending further investigation.

Detectives executed the second search warrant at 1905 15th St. Monday where they also seized evidence of methamphetamine distribution.

Officers arrested Brandon Robert Radle, 31, on a charge of unlawful possession of meth; and Chuck Wayne Briney, 26, on an outstanding Baker County warrant charging him with violating his release agreement.

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