Oklahoma Authorities Using New Tools To Track Drug Cartels

Wednesday, January 26th 2011, 4:02 pm
By: News 9

Jennifer Pierce, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma is quickly becoming a choice state for Mexican drug cartels to set up shop.

Experts said dangerous activity is on the rise in the sooner state because of the demand for drugs, more illegal immigrants in the country, Oklahoma's interstate system and Arizona's immigration law.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is on the cutting edge when it comes to disrupting cartels. The agency's spokesman, Mark Woodward, said Oklahoma is one of the only states in the country to have a full-time, Hispanic wire-tapping unit. The unit is focused on disrupting drug cartels from the top, down.

Woodward sites recent cases where the unit was put to work. In 2010, agents intercepted a conversation between a drug cartel member and a higher-up Sinaloa cartel member. He told the man to get out of Arizona because of the immigration law changes. The Sinaloa Lieutenant turned to Oklahoma but was identified and arrested last June.

"When you remove the head of the cartel cell in Oklahoma it can disrupt and dismantle an entire organization that's what we aim to do," said Woodward.

Another large OBN drug bust in Weatherford, Oklahoma, removed 50 drug dealers from the streets last August.

Woodward, said cartels are pushing not just marijuana, but meth, cocaine and heroine. He said the OBN takes Mexican drugs off the streets nearly every day, but it takes months of intelligence to bust large cartel operations.

Woodward said other states are now looking to Oklahoma for assistance.