Mexican Drug Cartels Bringing Crime, Violence To Oklahoma Streets
OKLAHOMA CITY - The same people who leave dead bodies and severed heads littering a busy highway in Mexico are now moving their operations to Oklahoma. Their product: Mexican ice or crystal meth. Cheap, highly addictive and the profits are astronomical.
Police say they'll do anything to protect their investment.
"They play by different rules than normal people. They're not negotiating contracts over a steak dinner at the local steakhouse. They're negotiating if things don't go their way, with an AK-47 in the parking lot of the steakhouse," said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director, Darrell Weaver.
Unlike the small, home labs we see in Oklahoma, Mexican meth is made in super labs where they don't produce grams or pounds, but, tons of meth, bound for the US, including Oklahoma.
The users tell undercover agents the difference between that product and what's made locally is like night and day and will "knock your socks off." These organizations are tightly run. There are drivers, lookouts, stash house operators, dispatchers and runners. They live in our neighborhoods and blend in to avoid detection.
"They're not flashy," the agent said. "They live in stash houses, apartments or small rental properties with just the bare basics: mattress, food, TV. For the most part, what they're here to do is sell drugs, 24 hours a day."
A bust in the metro in early 2013 took local agents eight months to infiltrate. In the end, they arrested 21 connected to the cartel and seized at least 13 pounds of highly potent Mexican meth. Agents say as much as 25 pounds of meth arrive in Oklahoma City from Mexico every week. That's enough for 24,000 hits.
"It's something we don't want to think about being in our backyard," the agent said. "But the reality is, it's here and here every day."
And, that violence we've seen in Mexico: 7,000 murders, 500 police killed - some of that bleeds over here too, because drugs, guns and violence often go together.
Police say a man was gunned down at a Tulsa car wash a few years ago because he lost a load of Mexican dope. In another incident, two men were shot to death in a car on a busy street. Police say it was a cartel hit.
"Even though you may not know a cartel member, may not be associated, think you never cross paths with one of these people," Weaver said, "the collateral damage of cartel members is in Oklahoma."
Local DA's and US attorneys have prosecuted several cases in Oklahoma in recent years with cartel connections, including a raid at a horse ranch in Lexington during summer 2012. The FBI says the ranch was a front to launder drug money for a ruthless and violent Mexico drug cartel.
The cartels aren't just involved in drug trafficking in Oklahoma, but human trafficking as well.