Drug And Human Trafficking Violence Making Its Way Into Oklahoma City

Friday, February 10th 2012, 12:10 am
By: News 9

They're the type of crimes you think of on the other side of the border -- in Mexico -- but beheadings and other drug-related violence are happening right here in the metro.

Last fall it was Bethany teen Carina Saunders -- killed to send a message to girls involved in human and drug trafficking.

Just last week we told you about an alleged house of prostitution busted on the city's southwest side where poker chips were exchanged for sex. Police say that shows an apparent tie to Mexican human trafficking rings.

News 9 traveled to southern Arizona to see how big the problem with drug cartels really is and why we should be worried about it spreading into the metro even more.

"I wear a bulletproof best at night. I'm scared," said Arizona farmer Scott Blevins. His land is a mile off of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. He says the Mexican drug cartels are so dangerous he has to protect himself. That includes a Glock strapped to his ankle.

Blevins said there's nowhere to hide. "It's running rampant throughout our nation. The drug cartels are imbedded in each one of our states."

Chief Deputy Steve Henry with the Pinal County Sheriff's Department says it's nothing new.

"What used to be a trickle has turned into a torrent. The violence in America, in Mexico, is here and it's not going anywhere anytime soon."

Blevins knows all about the Saunders case. He researches crimes with the cartel's calling cards as a way to become more informed. He said, "it coincided with the beheadings, the dismemberments that have happened here and in California."

Henry agrees. "The beheading in Oklahoma, we had a beheading in Chandler which is 19 miles from here. It was a drug cartel execution."

Arizona Police say they seized hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs and just a few months ago busted an organization worth between three and four billion dollars.

"Their product was going north to Oklahoma and other states," said Henry. "Violence follows money and when you're talking about that kind of money, there's a lot of violence."

Oklahoma authorities say the problem has been hiding in the shadows for years.

"I think a lot of people are just becoming aware of it. As long as demand is there they're going to find a way to smuggle it."

Agent Troy Wall has been with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics for eight years, but says it's something the Bureau has fought since 1975. He says we're all impacted by the cartels -- even if we don't realize it.

He said, "I would challenge you to find any family in Oklahoma that's not affected by drugs in some form or fashion."

And police say the Saunders case highlights how bad the violence can be right here in the metro.

"In the end, if you cross the cartel there's only one thing that's going to happen. Your life is going to end."

Police say there are several ways we can detect drug activity in our neighborhood:

--Traffic to and from the house or business.

--People not staying long.

--People acting suspiciously.