National Guard Helicopter Supports Local Metro Narcotics Surveillance

National Guard pilot (right) briefs Metro officer Nate Bradford on communications equipment aboard a helicopter used to do a narcotics surveillance flight over the area on Friday night, September 24.

By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress

Local Metro officers teamed up with a special crew of National Guard helicopter pilots on Friday night, September 24, to do a broad sweep of areas surrounding Moapa Valley looking for illegal narcotics activities.

The National Guard helicopter, based in Las Vegas, landed at Perkins Field airport in Overton at about 9:00 p.m. on Friday night. The flight crew was part of a special narcotics unit which provides air support to various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Local law enforcement officers had identified several isolated spots that they had heard or suspected were potential gathering places for narcotics use. Police officials stated that they have noticed a continued prevalence in the abuse of prescription drugs within certain groups of youth in the community.

“A lot of the kids involved in this think that it is okay because it is only prescription drugs,” said Metro officer Nate Bradford who participated in Friday night’s operation. “They have no idea how dangerous these things really are.”

The officers planned to do a sweep of the western edge of the valley from the magnasite area south of Overton to the narrows north of Logandale, then patrol over the Bowman reservoir and then the outlying areas on the eastern bench of the valley, finally ending with flying over the mesa to monitor any activity there.

If suspicious activity was found by the aircraft, Bradford, who was riding in the helicopter, could radio the location to Officer Andy Caldwell, who was on the ground. Caldwell could then rush to that location to investigate.

The aircraft was equipped with sophisticated night vision technology allowing extremely accurate and detailed surveillance from a significant distance. In fact, the pilot stated that most of the proposed area could probably be covered by taking the helicopter up, just hovering right over the airport and looking out over the surrounding area.

“It is pretty amazing,” said Bradford. “The equipment they are using can spot a heat source from miles away. If there was someone just smoking a cigarette you can pinpoint it from a distance.”

Friday night’s operation didn’t yield a huge drug bust but police felt that it was worthwhile. They detected a small group at one location that they were able to break up. But no arrests were made.

“I think that we thwarted a couple of things,” Bradford said. “We just want the kids to know that we are watching out there for them and that popping pills is just not acceptable.”

Bradford praised the National Guard team for their willingness to assist with law enforcement in the small community. “These guys are always eager to help and their very good at what they do,” Bradford said. “I’m sure that they’ll be back out here again in the future.”

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