In McAlester, local, state and federal officers have dismantled a huge methamphetamine ring. Twenty-five people have been arrested so far and police are going after others. It's the turning point in a year-long investigation. Police say they've cut off a major drug pipeline through McAlester from Dallas and Mexico, and the News On 6â€™s Steve Berg reports they're not stopping there.
Officials say the roundup began Tuesday and continued into Wednesday.
"These people are all looking at distribution of methamphetamine as well money laundering charges once they are brought into custody, both federal and state charges," said Mark Woodward of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Woodward says they have reason to believe this was a major meth ring.
"Oftentimes we work cases where they're dealing in grams and even ounces,â€ said Woodward. â€œTo give you an idea of the magnitude of this organization, it was not uncommon for them to be on the phone ordering two to 10 pounds a week being brought in from Mexico to Dallas."
He says one of the suspects' names, Mark Fry, kept coming up during their investigation, and they think they've nabbed one of the major ringleaders in southeastern Oklahoma drug trafficking.
"There could be potentially dozens if not hundreds of people, both street dealers and users who are depending on it, so you can really crumble an organization by getting the ones at the top, and that's what we did today," said Woodward.
The drug is the same, but the source has changed. Law enforcement says the Mexico meth is filling the void from the infamous homegrown meth labs of the past.
"The pseudophed law has ended that crisis,â€ said Pittsburg County District Attorney Jim Miller. â€œWe have very few local meth labs anymore. The problem that has arisen is that we now have methamphetamine being trafficked in from Mexico."
Still, Woodward says it's the lesser of two evils.
"So has meth disappeared? No. We knew it would not with this pseudoephedrine law,â€ said Woodward. â€œThe idea was to get these meth labs shut down, these toxic waste dumps that were in neighborhoods and a problem statewide."
Officials say in the past, it wasn't unusual to find three meth labs in a single night in Pittsburg County, and they felt like they were spread too thin. Now, they feel like they're able to focus their efforts more.