Combating highway drug traffic priority for District 6 DA team
Derrick Miller The Duncan Banner
With U.S. Highway 81, I-44 and I-40 all in District 6, the Stephens County Violent Crimes Task Force is doing what it can to reduce the amount of drugs moving through the county.
The task force, under direction of the Stephens County District Attorney’s office, is using an interdiction unit to take large quantities of narcotics and money off the highways in this district. District Attorney Jason Hicks said more than 100 pounds of marijuana have already been taken off the roadways.
“We started the unit with a purpose and goal that was two fold,” Hicks said. “We want to have an impact on the large quantities of drugs moving through here.
“The second purpose is financial. We will get part of the funds that we take off the highways. That money will feed back into our task force.”
Hicks said the interdiction unit has already had some success, including several instances involving other law enforcement entities. He said one bust helped an agency in California secure multiple search warrants, which led to numerous arrests.
Another stop made with the interdiction unit resulted in the apprehension of a man from another state who was traveling with 1 pound of marijuana and $25,000 in cash. The task force was able to discover the man had been selling the pot in various places he had stopped.
“It’s having an impact,” Hicks said. “They’ve been very, very successful in the first month.”
He said the task force is making more stops and having more contact with drivers. He said there are more people serving long prison sentences.
The task force and the DA’s office work closely with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, with much success, Hicks said. He said there have been hundreds of arrests made and prosecutions completed in the past few years because of the task force.
Hicks said the task force is made possible because of JAG Funds — grants given to the District Attorney’s office. He said JAG Funds are only expected to continue for the next 12 to 24 months.
In Hick’s first year in office, the task force received $188,000 for the task force. In his second year, the task force’s funding went down to $166,000. Hicks expects another funding cut this year.
With the interdiction unit pulling more money off the highways, the portion of money received by the District Attorney’s office will subsidize the task force and offset the decreasing funds. The more busts the task force makes, the more money the task force will receive.
Hicks said the idea is to keep the task force going and to keep the police officers on the streets.