Chickashanews.com

July 23, 2013

Hicks halts highway drug stops during program review

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA —

The local district attorney has asked that drug interdiction work on highways as part of a third-party training operation with investigators be stopped while his office conducts a review.

Jason Hicks, district attorney for District 06 which includes Grady County, has asked his Drug and Violent Crime Task Force to not conduct operations on highways while it works with Desert Snow, a private company that is under contract to train Task Force officers for a percentage of money seized in drug stops. District 06 will review money forfeiture cases and criminal cases worked by the Task Force.

“If any modifications need to be made to the program, they will be made," Hicks said. " I fully believe we are in compliance with state law and at the time the program was formed my intent was to see that my investigators received top notch training and to ensure that we could continue the operation of the drug and violent crime task force.” 

Complaints were lodged after the Desert Snow owner pulled over a pregnant woman on I-40 in Caddo County, despite not having the certification to make such stops on state highways. The state Attorney General's office is also investigating a report that $400 confiscated in a traffic stop has gone missing.

The year-long agreement between District 06 and Desert Snow, which was signed in January, allows the third-party company a 25 percent share of funds seized on days when training is being conducted and a 10 percent share on days when none of its supervisors are present. Supervisors are always available on-call, Hicks said and he notes the program has, so far, been successful for Task Force officers.

“I think the bottom line on this program is that it is successful," Hicks said. "We are taking drugs off of our streets and destroying them, and we are seizing money from drug traffickers and putting it into law enforcement”

Desert Snow instructors all have background in law enforcement across the United States. The training program is still in place and will only halt operation on highways. According to a press release over the weekend, the program has seized 100 pounds of marijuana, multiple ounces of cocaine, hundreds of pills and approximately $1.3 million dollars from drug trafficking to date. State law allows money seized during drug busts to go toward training. The rest, Hicks said, will go into the budget of the Task Force and is planned to be used to add a prosecutor and investigator.