Sanpete County's new sheriff has announced that combating illegal drugs and cattle rustling are the top items on his law enforcement agenda.

And Sheriff Wallace Buchanan is in a position to know what the county's principal enforcement problems are: he's been a Sanpete deputy sheriff for 17 years. In the stepped-up effort to combat drugs, Buchanan has asked the state Strike Force for a $96,000 grant.That amount, he said, would enable his office to hire a full-time director of a local strike force and otherwise intensify the local enforcement program on drugs and alcohol.

"We know we have a problem, it keeps surfacing," Buchanan said.

And he said that the county's farmers and ranchers are losing thousands of dollars to cattle rustling.

"It's most serious in the summer months when the cattle are on the range," Buchanan said. "Rustlers can pull in a truck, slaughter an animal and leave without a clue."

The livestock people can help by checking on their animals frequently and reporting apparent losses, Buchanan said. The Sanpete Sheriff's Department has a contract with the Forest Service to patrol mountain ranges, he explained, but with so much territory to cover, a cooperative effort is needed "by all hands."

The Sanpete County Jail, which is under his jurisdiction, will continue to incarcerate low-risk state prisoners as a way of enhancing revenue, according to Buchanan. He said that service brings in about $100,000 annually in state money, at the rate of $30 per day per prisoner.

Because the county is required to have a certified officer on duty as a jailer at all times, housing state prisoners is a substantial financial advantage, Buchanan said.