Mexican Drug Cartels Bring More Crime, Violence To Oklahoma
TULSA, Oklahoma - We hear a lot about people in Oklahoma making meth in labs in their cars and apartments, but 80 percent of all meth here is now being supplied by Mexican cartels.
It's called ice and is very pure and highly addictive. It's flooding our streets, and bringing with it a host of other crimes.
The same people who would leave dead bodies and severed heads littering a busy highway in Mexico just to make a point are now moving their operations to Oklahoma.
Their product, Mexican ice or crystal meth, is cheap and the profits are astronomical and police say they'll do anything to protect their investment.
"They play by different rules than normal people play by. 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 Darrell Weaver, of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Like with most CEOs of large organizations, the top guy never touches the product. There's a chain of command, code names, cell groups, so if lower level operatives get caught, they can't finger the top level leaders.
Unlike the small, clandestine labs we see in Oklahoma, Mexican meth is made in super labs, where they don't produce grams or pounds, but tons of meth, with strict guidelines and quality control, all to be distributed all over the U.S., including Green Country.
The users say the difference between that product and what's made locally is shocking.
"I'll never forget this. He looks at me and says, 'Mexican meth will knock your socks off. Knock your socks off. It's night and day,'" an agent told News On 6.
The agents who work cartel cases are at such high risk, we are not identifying them or even saying which agency they work for. These organizations are so tightly run and distrustful of outsiders that's it's tough for undercover officers to penetrate.
There are drivers, lookouts, stash house operators, dispatchers and runners. The runners are selling the drugs and are often young Hispanic men, sent here from Sinaloa, who live in our neighborhoods and communities and blend in to avoid detection.
"They're not flashy. 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," the agent said.
They make as much money as they can for a year or two, and then go back and replaced by other runners.
That's why a recent bust in Tulsa took drug agents nearly two years to infiltrate, but they scooped up 50 cartel employees, including lower level street dealers, up to higher level lieutenants.
They say the organization was bringing in several pounds of ice every month.
"It's something we don't want to think about being in our backyard, but the reality is, it's here and here everyday," the agent said.
And it's not just a problem for people who take meth, it's a problem for all of us. People will do anything to get money to buy their meth. They break into our cars, they break into our homes, they rob us when we're running errands, all kinds of crime are directly connect to cartel drug trafficking.
Weaver said, "Even though you may not know a cartel member, may not be associated, think you never cross paths with one of these people, the collateral damage of cartel members is in Oklahoma."
And the violence in Mexico - 7,000 murders, 500 cops killed - bleeds over here, too, because drugs, guns and violence always go together.
Tulsa police say a man was gunned down at a Tulsa car wash a few years ago, because he lost load of Mexican dope.
Another two men were shot to death in a car on a busy street. Police say it was a cartel hit and it's still not been solved.
"It's a business like anything else. It's a business, the only difference between their business and a legit business is they don't have rules. They don't have rules," the agent said.
Local district attorneys and U.S. attorneys have prosecuted several cases in recent years with cartel connections.
The cartels aren't just involved in drug trafficking in Oklahoma, but human trafficking as well.