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Increase of drug related crimes in San Marcos

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Throughout the last few years San Marcos has not only seen a rise in population, but an increase in drug related crimes as well.

Commander Kelly Earnest of San Marcos Police Department said whenever there is a rise in population, there is a greater risk of any kind of crime happening.

In 2015 there were six homicides in San Marcos. Of the six homicides, five were drug or narcotics related, Earnest said.

Hays County was named the fastest growing county in Texas and the fifth fastest in the country by the U.S. Census Bureau. While the growth may not be a direct correlation, the rise in drug centered crimes comes at a time when population is on an upward climb.

“Correlation is a strong word,” Earnest said. “So, I’ll use association. Any time there are more people, there is more of a possibility of crimes occurring since there are simply more opportunities.”

Earnest said along with drug related crimes, there has also been an increase in property crimes such as burglaries and theft.

In June 2015, seven local young men were charged with capital murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Joel Espino. Three of the seven were 17 at the time and the oldest was 21 years old. Police believed it was an attempted robbery, and Espino’s residence was a known drug location.

A 20-year-old was murdered over a suspected drug deal gone wrong on Oct. 2, 2015. According to the record, Bryan Martinez, 19, was arrested on Oct. 4 for the murder. The other suspect Johnathan Ivan Guia, 22, turned himself in on Oct. 6 after a murder warrant was issued for his arrest.

More recently, last December a Texas State student was fatally shot at The Retreat by men who have yet to be identified. According to a December 7, 2015 University Star article, the suspects are three males wearing hoodies and masks. There was a physical struggle leading to the victim dying from gunshot wounds.

In a statement made shortly after the homicide, Chief of Police Chase Stapp said the San Marcos Police Department strongly believes robbery and drugs were the motive of the murder.

While the age of the criminals has varied, the victims are typically college-aged individuals, Earnest said.

“The victims are normally the ones selling the drugs, or have a lot of cash on them,” Earnest said. “Not always, but typically that is the case.”

Earnest said she couldn’t compare San Marcos to other cities without the proper data, but believes the population of college-aged individuals in the area could be a contributing factor to an increase in drug related crimes.

“Because we have a college-aged population I would say we have a higher percentage of drug-related crime,” Earnest said. “And it has definitely increased over the past few years.”

Officer Sue Taylor, University Police Department, said due to UPD being primarily on campus, it has always seen drug related crimes. However, typically officers see use of marijuana and illegal use of prescription drugs.

“We’re on campus, so it’s a little different than what SMPD sees,” Taylor said. “We get a lot of crimes involving marijuana and illegal prescriptions, like ADHD medication for example.”

Taylor said crimes committed involving drugs are brought to their attention by resident advisors, anonymous tips and traffic violations involving the vehicle smelling like marijuana.

“We’ve caught people, you know, smoking in their cars,” Taylor said. “Sometimes if we stop them for a traffic violation and there is a suspicious smell, or RAs will report a suspicious smell coming out of dorm rooms.”

While they have always had cases involving drugs, UPD tends not to have issues with drug related violence, or home evasions, Taylor said.

“We normally don’t, I mean we have before, but normally we do not see drug related violent crimes on campus,” Taylor said.