Drug Investigation Pays Off Big For Oklahoma Law Enforcement
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - A major drug investigation produced big rewards for local law enforcement.
It may have a funny name, but the United States Attorney’s Office says Operation Killa Gorilla had serious consequences for suspects selling synthetic drugs.
"Our men and women of law enforcement began seeing - in schools, in hospitals, in work sites, in their jails - a recurring problem,” said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The investigation started in 2013, when law enforcement saw an uptick of the drugs, commonly called synthetic marijuana, K2 and spice.
The DEA says they worked with both federal and local partners to crack down on people selling the drugs, especially at smoke shops on Indian land throughout northeast Oklahoma.
The IRS and U.S. Attorney's Office also followed the money trail.
"Countless hours of surveillance, undercover buys, subpoenas, financial analysis, led to the eventual seizure and forfeiture," said John Scott, Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the DEA.
The investigation led detectives to a man named John James, who later pleaded guilty to selling the drugs at smoke shops in Tulsa, Owasso and Claremore, profiting by millions of dollars.
Other defendants pleaded guilty in 2017, and as part of his plea, James forfeited nearly $2 million.
On Thursday, that money was finally distributed to 17 law enforcement agencies.
"As a result of operation Killa Gorilla, the United States Attorney’s Office is presenting a check today to local law enforcement for $2 million," said Shores.
The money was distributed to local agencies who helped in the investigation:
Broken Arrow Police Department- $255, 716
Cherokee Nation Marshal Service- $85,000
Claremore Police Department- $85,000
Owasso Police Department- $85,000
Rogers County Sheriff’s Office- $225,716
Sapulpa Police Department- $262, 716
Tulsa Police Department- $262, 716
Army National Guard- $19,893