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I-35 and the Dangers of Interstate Drug Trafficking

by Will Long

August 19, 2022

I-35 and the Dangers of Interstate Drug Trafficking

There’s a lengthy log of drug trafficking cases along Interstate 35, the major north-south artery that goes straight through the heart of Oklahoma City. Interstate 35 runs from the US-Mexico border at Laredo, Texas to its terminus at Duluth, Minnesota and covers an extensive route into the interior of North America. Unbeknownst to most of the United States, interstate highways like I-35 represent valuable territory to drug-smuggling cartels and gangs that act as drug mules in the US.

“Oklahoma City is a major route for drug traffickers with I-40 and I-35 running right through the heart of the city,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III. “It always has been. But lately we’ve seen a dramatic increase in fentanyl trafficking through the county. It’s cheap. It’s easy to conceal. And it’s very powerful. But it’s also deadly.”

Oklahoma City happens to sit right at the crossroads of two major interstate highways and is also a key stop on the journey north from the US-Mexico border. Drug cartels lay claim to most major cities in the US. Any business conducted without their knowledge in the drug trafficking world is considered an economic affront. As highly efficient arteries of transportation and commerce, they act as an effective gateway into the interior of the country. 

Recent Drug Busts on I-35

In June of 2021, a traffic stop on I-35 yielded an AR-15, 20 rounds of ammunition, meth, and fentanyl; the officers found more drugs on one of the people arrested and believed that the substances were going to be smuggled into the Garvin County Jail. A March 2022 drug bust on the northbound half of I-35 got over $3 million worth of fentanyl pills and methamphetamine off the streets, with one person being arrested after her story didn’t quite add up to the officer who initiated the stop. In May 2022, law enforcement officers conducted a traffic stop where they seized eight pounds of methamphetamine. The traffic stop occurred just off I-35, where the drugs were being transported.

Trafficking in Oklahoma City

Drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, are trafficked primarily over the US-Mexico border via highways and interstates. Drivers of the vehicles carrying the illicit substances will hide them in tight, well-hidden spaces in and around the vehicle. The only indication that something is hidden is if a search by a law enforcement or a law enforcement search animal finds an indication that drugs are being smuggled.

The DEA maintains a list with the penalties of interstate drug trafficking on their website, along with penalties subject to a number of offenses. In 2010, the Department of Justice published a chart that showed how much more popular drug trafficking via transit is compared to other methods. There were 1,588,703 kilograms of drugs seized during land transit in 2009, with the next-highest method being maritime transport with a shockingly lower amount at 24,737 kilograms.

From Sea to Shining Overseas

With evidence that international sources are becoming more and more common compared to domestic sources, our domestic law enforcement agencies have begun reporting busts that corroborate the data. With greater amounts of opioids, marijuana, and cocaine slipping through the US-Mexico border and traveling north to Oklahoma, it now becomes our imperative to control the damage caused by these illicit substances.

These days, drug busts don’t cause “draughts” like they used to in local drug supply, nor do they do much to stem the tide of dangerous substances in our communities. Through evidence-based addiction treatment that aims to treat patients in every part of their lives, we can help stop overdoses and the negative effects of substance use disorders.

Learn More

To learn more about how Landmark Recovery of Oklahoma City treats those suffering from a substance use disorder, give us a call at 888-448-0302 today. Our dedicated admissions team will walk you through how to get admitted to one of our treatment centers so you can get on the path to recovery.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.