Chickashanews.com

December 13, 2012

DA says meth use in Grady comparable to rest of Oklahoma

James Bright
The Express-Star

GRADY COUNTY — Grady County is part of a larger, state-wide problem of Crystal Meth moving through the state via several highways, according to District Attorney Jason Hicks.

He said his task force has seen Mexican-made Crystal Meth moved through the county on Interstate Highway 35, Interstate Highway 44 and Interstate Highway 40.

"You don't see many local meth labs anymore," he said. "Most of our cases involve distribution of Mexican made drugs."

Hicks said since he took office in 2010 he has only filed 10 cases where the drugs were made locally, compared to over 500 cases where the methamphetamine was brought into the state.

A task force agent with the DA's office, who wished to remain anonymous said restrictions on the purchase of pseudoephedrine have gone a long way to shutting down local meth labs, but the drug flow has yet to cease.

"It's just too easy to get from across the border," he said.

Grady County and Oklahoma's geography in general are major contributing factors to this problem. He said there are three Mexican cartels left that carry drugs up the three highways and spread their products out 20 to 30 miles away from the roads as well.

Hicks said he thinks the drug use feeds into other crimes. He said the recent increase in burglaries may be attributed to addicts needing money to feed their addiction.

"Grady County is not unique in this," he said. "It's going on all over Oklahoma and it doesn't matter how big or small the town is."

Hicks said he occasionally works with a law enforcement agency just over the Texas / Oklahoma border and they have seen the same problem.

"A lot of times, a criminal will steal from one side of the Red River and then take it to the other side to sell the items," he said.

Violent crimes have seemed to spike since the cartels have started shipping their drugs up the highways said Hicks.

"Oklahoma County has seen their highest homicide rate in 20 years," he said. "I think the distribution and use of Crystal Meth is tied to the increase in violent crimes."

Hicks said combatting this issue in the future may also be a problem.

"As funds continue to be cut from various departments, it is difficult to see this problem coming to an end," he said.

Despite the problems in combatting the drug trade, Hicks said he looks at the process like a business.

"Like anything else you have supply and demand," he said. "We have to attack the supply and we are as aggressive as possible with prosecution. If someone is caught selling $20 worth of meth, we will try to get that person 20 years in prison."

Although Hicks has taken a zero tolerance policy toward Crystal Meth distributors, he said his department tries to help those arrested for use.

"The demand is still high and we try to settle those cases in drug court to get these people the help they need," he said.