Mexican Drug Operations Found on Indian Reservations
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Narcotic agents in Oklahoma say there's growing evidence of Mexico drug operations near or on Indian reservations.
According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, "cultivating marijuana in Indian country represents a new twist in the decades-old illicit drug trade between Mexico and the U.S., the world's largest drug-consuming market."
Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, said three major pot busts this past summer have ties to Mexico.
"Marijuana cultivation in Oklahoma has always been a problem, and it's nothing new," said Woodward. "However, this is the first time we've been able to make a connection between the marijuana we found and Mexico."
Several months ago agents found nearly 1,300 marijuana plants in a field near Avant in Osage County. National Guard pilots spotted the fields and a naked man bathing in a creek.
"They didn't make any arrests in this bust, but they found three I.D. cards from Mexico in a cave as well as a tent, and tortillas and eggs, so it's clear that these Mexicans were living in the area and cultivating the patch," said Woodward.
Three weeks later National Guard pilots spotted marijuana plants on the Kiamichi Mountains in eastern Oklahoma. Nearly 30,000 plants were discovered and burned and two illegal immigrants were arrested.
"They admitted they were part of a larger operation," said Woodward.
The third patch was discovered in September in the city of Carnegie. In addition to nearly 2,000 plants, agents found a warning signing signed - "the Mexican mafia."
"In that bust the Bureau of Indian Affairs police were alerted about the patch and they discovered it was on Indian land," said Woodward.
Agents don't think the cultivators are specifically seeking out Indian reservations. Coincidentally, they're looking for remote land with thick trees, water and a place with little to no population. For the cartels, growing pot in America has two advantages: People willing to work cheap and less of a risk.
"There's a lot of these people who are looking for work, and they work cheap or out of fear," said Woodward. "I think the cartels look at the fact that they may already have workers here in America and rather than risk bringing Mexican produced marijuana across the border in El Paso, they go ahead and grow it on this side of the border and distribute it nationwide."
Marijuana fields that have ties to Mexico have also popped up in Colorado and Texas this year.