Mexican drug cartels operate in Ozarks; 69 are arrested in Douglas County
This small county has a big drug problem -- and the Douglas County sheriff says it is not alone. The price of methamphetamine has dropped dramatically in the last two years, and now more people are getting hooked.
"Some of this meth has been testing almost 100-percent pure," said Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase.
The Mexican drug cartel is now in small town USA.
"They have a network and it's a very huge network that expands from the central United States all the way to the border," Degase said.
Scores of folks in Douglas County are in on it, and elsewhere across the Ozarks.
"I just believe, if we can control the drug, we can control the stealing, we can control a lot of our assaults and things that we have," said Degase.
Degase made the drug trade his number one target. In one recent case, Degase even got a search warrant and took a woman to a doctor to have the doctor remove meth that she stuffed inside her body. It was wrapped in black electrical tape.
"We get anonymous calls, tips, information, almost a daily basis," Degase said.
The sheriff's office has arrested 69 people in Douglas County alone, all for meth, in just the last four months. Their mug shots fill an entire wall.
The arrested meth users are young and old, men and women; their lives are being destroyed by a highly addictive, yet affordable drug.
"We've seen the price almost been cut in half. The drugs from Mexico have obviously taken over," Degase said.
Drug search dog Yadi is advancing the mission. He sniffed out meth stashed in a truck in 30 seconds flat. It's team work from deputies, a dog and a sheriff with one goal in mind.
"Our goal is to get them dried out. If we bring them in and we turn them out too soon, they're not going to succeed. They're going to run right out, they're going to do dope, and they're going to fail. So our goal is to before we get them released on the bond supervision, is to get them dried out-- get them clean coming out of here and give them a chance to succeed," he said.