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Sunday, 26 April 2009

Mexican drug cartels are entrenched in Oklahoma

Mexican drug cartels are entrenched in Oklahoma, casting an ominous shadow on the future of our cities and rural communities. "Oklahoma's No. 1 threat is the Mexican drug cartels," said Darrell Weaver, executive director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. "Make no mistake." gathered over the past 14 years has revealed a shadowy underworld of "second- and third-generation" Mexican drug smugglers who have gained a foothold throughout Oklahoma. They often operate in rural towns under the guise of a legitimate business such as a meat market or restaurant, and their connections have been traced to nearly all of Mexico's most notorious cartels — Sinaloa, Los Zetas, La Familia Michoacana, La Linea and Juarez.
"At least 90 percent of the drugs we see here in Oklahoma are coming from the Mexican drug cartels," said one undercover state agent who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.
The agent, known as "Agent M.S." for this article, is a veteran investigator who often conducts direct buys with major drug distributors. He is a second-generation American citizen whose father once served in the Mexican military, and he has participated in many of Oklahoma's largest drug busts in the past 15 years. "They're really in our neighborhoods," said Agent M.S., who posed as a seller in a sting operation in August at Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City. Unarmed, he met three Mexican dealers who scanned his body with a hand-held metal detector to see if he was wired with a recorder or listening device. Once satisfied that he wasn't an undercover agent or police informant, the men began to talk about business and their connections with Mexican drug cartel members in Dallas and beyond the Rio Grande. "They mentioned real names of cartel members," Agent M.S. said. "Suddenly I realized I'm dealing with a guy on a real level. He wanted 50 kilos (of cocaine) a week. You're talking $1 million to $1.5 million a week worth of cocaine. That's real money and whenever you're talking about those kinds of purchases, you're dealing with a Mexican drug cartel.
Information gathered from the encounter led to a Mexican restaurant owner who had been using his popular western Oklahoma business as a front for his drug-smuggling operation. The investigation continues with hopes of netting higher-level cartel members. "Oklahomans are in danger because they deal with these people without them knowing," Agent M.S. said. "They'll visit their restaurants (or other businesses) they own. The danger is being caught in the crossfire." The cartels are also providing children with drugs, and rural communities are no longer insulated from the major drug operations. In fact, Agent M.S. said, one informant recently claimed that two large warehouses are cooking methamphetamine somewhere in the state. Such warehouses — known as "fiesta labs" in Mexico — are designed to cook massive amounts of methamphetamine around the clock. Another undercover state agent, who also asked for anonymity as "Agent P.A.," said, "The average citizen doesn't have a clue as to the reality of the Mexican drug cartels operating in the United States, and specifically Oklahoma. "And it's not just in Oklahoma City. It's everywhere they can gain a foothold. You go to Elk City, and if you dig deep enough you'll find a connection in Elk City. You can go to Woodward Altus Frederick and you can find a connection if you look hard enough."


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