New weapon in fight against drugs

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With each passing day, drug traffickers are coming up with new ways to conceal contraband and avoid detection, but law enforcement officers in our area now have a new highly-efficient weapon in the fight against drugs.

You’ve likely heard of super heroes with X-ray vision, now Mississippi’s law enforcement officers have the same advantage right at the tips of their fingers thanks to a helping hand from a crime-fighting and drug interdiction group.

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Tim Valenti is executive director of the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, also known as HIDTA, and was on hand for Friday’s unveiling of the state-of-the-art, high-tech new weapon in the fight against drugs. “We’ve been able to secure some extra funding to buy this special piece of equipment, this scanning device, to make it easier for our narcotics officers out there on the streets to find drugs so they can seize drugs and contraband, for that matter. What it is, is a scanning machine that can be used to scan an automobile, tractor trailer, inside of a home, to see what’s behind the wall, to see what’s in there. For example, if you’re scanning, you can easily see the outline of a weapon, and also other contraband like drugs.”

This Viken X-Ray scanning device not only is helping to take drugs off the street, but also provides better protection for our area law enforcement officers whose work often puts them in dangerous and potentially deadly situations. Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said, “That’s right, and especially when you go into a drug house, and you know there’s been drug activity. When you leave there, after scanning the walls, you’ll know that nobody can come back later and retrieve the guns or drugs that were hidden.”

This technology has already proven to be a great investment although it’s only been in use a little more than a year here in the state of Mississippi. “In one seizure alone, by using the scanner, $650,000 was seized in one major corridor in Mississippi, so in one seizure, it has already paid for itself.”

Mississippi is just one of the six Gulf Coast HIDTA states equipped with the latest technology to fight drug crimes in our area along with our partners across state lines.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!