The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a strong presence in Oklahoma City. The Dallas Division maintains a Field Office in the city. In addition, DEA agents are part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Gang Task Force that was created in 2006 to help unite the efforts of federal, state, and local authorities in fighting drug trafficking in the city.
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Drug Interdictions by DEA Agents in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City is a major transshipment point for illicit drugs, particularly those coming from the Dallas/Forth Worth area. Mexican drug trafficking organizations bring these drugs from Mexico up Interstate 35 into Oklahoma City, frequently in vehicles, using both cars and public transportation.
The Mexican cartels have cell heads in Oklahoma City that coordinate the distribution of drugs from Oklahoma City to other markets. Illicit drugs in the city are often stored in residential homes used as stash houses. They are then broken into smaller parcels and transported to the East Coast on Interstate 40. This route goes east and west, enabling traffickers to also bring drugs in from the West Coast.
Along with other authorities, the DEA has been monitoring highway traffic and intercepting drug shipments. This approach has been so successful that traffickers have taken to using alternate routes to avoid the major highways. The DEA routinely makes major busts in the Oklahoma City area.
- In March 2013, DEA agents discovered over 400 pounds of marijuana being loaded into a tractor trailer in Oklahoma City, leading to the arrest of seven people.
- As a result of a surveillance operation by DEA agents in Oklahoma County, two Las Vegas residents were arrested for their role in drug trafficking in March 2012. As a result of the arrests, ten pounds of methamphetamine was found at a residence in Oklahoma City.
- After the arrest of a drug trafficker in Tennessee, DEA agents became aware of a conspiracy to transport meth from Phoenix to Oklahoma City and Tennessee. They discovered over six pounds of methamphetamine in the air conditioning vent of a house in Oklahoma City, leading to a February 2012 federal indictment.
What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in Oklahoma City
There are a number of career paths that people to take to obtain jobs with the DEA. One way is to be a law enforcement official involved in investigating drug trafficking. Many people seeking careers with the DEA do so through secondary education. Having a J.D., LL.B, Master’s, or a Bachelor’s degree with a 2.95 GPA will qualify individuals to apply for positions with the DEA. The GPA requirement is waived for people with Bachelor’s degrees that have three years of special skills experience. This can range from being an accountant or engineer to being a ship or airline pilot. Other options include being an information technology specialist or being fluent in any one of a number of languages.
Oklahoma City residents who want to learn how to become a DEA agent should contact the Dallas Division to determine if there are positions available in the city. Additional requirements to become a DEA agent include having excellent physical and mental health. This includes having good vision and hearing.
Recruits obtain their training in Quantico, Virginia at the DEA and FBI Academies. They take their coursework at the DEA Academy and get their practical training at the FBI Academy. This includes becoming proficient in using firearms, skilled at pursuit and defensive driving, and getting in excellent physical condition.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Oklahoma City
In addition to serving as a transportation hub for traffickers, Oklahoma City has high rates of drug abuse. This is thought to be one of the reasons for the increasing homicide rate in the city. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the federal government made Oklahoma County part of the North Texas HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) in 1998.
Prescription Drugs – As is the case nationally, prescription drug abuse has been dramatically increasing in Oklahoma and in Oklahoma City. The state had the highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country in 2010. Over 80% of the drug related deaths in 2008 were due to prescription drugs in the Oklahoma counties that are part of the HIDTA. Hydrocodone and oxycodone were the drugs responsible for most of the prescription drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma County in 2010.
It is relatively easy to acquire prescription drugs in Oklahoma City. Addicts often obtain their drugs from doctors at pain management clinics located throughout the state. In addition, the drugs are obtained fraudulently in northeastern Texas and then brought back to Oklahoma City.
Heroin – Mexican drug trafficking organizations bring wholesale quantities of heroin into Oklahoma City. The number of treatment admissions for heroin use in Oklahoma County almost quadrupled during the period from 2006 to 2008. Some of this is an indirect result of prescription drug abuse, since some addicts end up switching to heroin.
Methamphetamine – In the past, Mexican drug trafficking organizations supplied the primary form of meth in Oklahoma City—ice methamphetamine. The region is seeing an upswing in the number of meth labs being seized by DEA and other law enforcement agents. Virtually all of the labs seized in Oklahoma in 2010 were using the one-pot method to produce meth. This method is technically easier, but uses dangerous compounds that easily explode, are toxic to the environment, and expensive to detoxify.
Marijuana – Most of the pot in Oklahoma City is brought in by Mexican traffickers. It is the most commonly abused drug in Oklahoma. This is leading to an increased demand for high-quality forms of the drug, which can fetch nearly seven times the price of commercial-grade pot. The current trend in the region is to grow pot indoors hydroponically. In addition, traffickers bring high-potency pot to Oklahoma City from medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and California.
Cocaine – Mexican drug trafficking organizations transport wholesale quantities of cocaine into Oklahoma City. While much of it is shipped throughout the country, some of it remains in Oklahoma City, contributing to the toll of drug abuse. Dealers in some of the inner city neighborhoods of Oklahoma City convert the powdered form of cocaine to crack to supply to their customers.
Oklahoma City Gangs and Drug Violence
Most of the homicides in Oklahoma City are thought to have a drug component. Gang members in Oklahoma City provide most of the hard drugs available at the street level. The city had over 5,100 gang members in 2012 operating out of over 100 gangs. They frequently work closely with members of Mexican drug trafficking operations. Gang members associate with the members of various cartels, depending on which cartel members they are related to and have befriended. Authorities have been fighting back with the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Gang Task Force that has resulted in hundreds of arrests.