Archive for Friday, December 2, 2011

Drug traffickers using Kansas highways to move their products

Traffic flows on all six lanes on a portion of Interstate 70 just west of the Lecompton Interchange in this September file photo. A recent federal survey says that chances are high that illegal drugs smuggled into the United States from Mexico will travel through Kansas via I-70.

Traffic flows on all six lanes on a portion of Interstate 70 just west of the Lecompton Interchange in this September file photo. A recent federal survey says that chances are high that illegal drugs smuggled into the United States from Mexico will travel through Kansas via I-70.

December 2, 2011


There’s a good chance illegal drugs smuggled into the United States from Mexico will travel through Kansas, and maybe Lawrence, on their way to the East Coast, according to a recently released federal report.

“Kansas is kind of that gateway,” said Lt. Scott Herrington, spokesman for the Kansas Highway Patrol, which monitors Kansas highways.

The National Drug Intelligence Center released the 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment recently — which identifies how illegal drugs flow into, and then around, the United States.

Interstates 70 and 35 play a prominent role in drug trafficking, according to the report. Both highways are listed as major trafficking routes for marijuana, heroin and cocaine. Kansas City, where I-70 and I-35 converge, was cited as a major hub in drug trafficking trends. The report details how drugs smuggled into Texas and California make their way east and north, through Kansas, on their way to Chicago and other eastern parts of the country.

While illegal drugs might travel through Lawrence on I-70, it’s less clear what role — if any — Lawrence plays in the larger international drug trade.

Sgt. Steve Lewis, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said deputies in their Intensive Criminal Enforcement Unit monitor I-70 aggressively for illegal drugs.

“Stopping the flow of illegal drugs through Douglas County is a high priority for the team,” Lewis said.

But Lewis and Herrington said they didn’t have specific details about whether Lawrence is a hub, or major stopping point, for smugglers.

Curbing the flow of illegal drugs through the state is often a combined effort among state, federal and local law enforcement, Herrington said. One example is the I-135/I-70 Drug Task Force organized by the Saline and Dickinson County Sheriff’s Offices, formed in 1993. Since then, the task force has seized more than $55 million worth of illegal drugs.

One trend in Kansas is an increase in the amount of marijuana seized by the Kansas Highway Patrol, which nearly doubled between 2008 and 2010, up to more than 13,000 pounds last year.

Herrington also said officers are seeing other roads — such as Kansas Highway 4 and U.S. Highway 36 — utilized by smugglers trying to avoid law enforcement.

Regardless of how much they seize, it’s an uphill battle stopping drug traffickers, Herrington said.

“As soon as a trooper makes an arrest, there’s more coming,” he said.

Google form

Illegal drugs seized by Kansas Highway Patrol

Chart shows how many pounds of each illegal drug the Kansas Highway Patrol seized on state roads between 2008 and 2010. 2008 and 2009 numbers for Heroin and Ecstasy not available.

Google form

Value of illegal drugs seized

Chart shows the estimated street value of drugs seized by the Kansas Highway Patrol in 2008, 2009, and 2010. 2008 and 2009 numbers not available for heroin.


Ignignokt 6 years, 3 months ago

1) Is this a shock? I-70 and I-35 are major cargo routes, no matter what the cargo is.

2) How can your compare seizures in pounds? Nobody (to my extremely limited and not first hand) knowledge goes out and buys a pound a Heroin, not even dealers. If you did it in "street value" I'm sure you could make it look like no Marijuana comes through Kansas.

Boston_Corbett 6 years, 3 months ago

And I thought the nine-fingered beast had already closed the US-Mexico border to keep our country flu-free.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

1) For some reason, this article reminds me of an incident that happened many years ago that involved me and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. (The K.B.I.)

I was headed east, and my little Chevrolet Chevette was absolutely packed everything you can imagine, because I was moving and needed to pack that little car with as much stuff as I possibly could. And I mean everything was stuffed to the brim, every square inch of that little car was absolutely packed. But, I could see out just fine over all my things, even over the packed full right front passenger seat.

Among the things that were on the very top was a spade, a rake, and two cat carriers. It was rather warm that day and my air conditioner didn't work. So, I had all my windows rolled down a few inches, and I kept my car moving pretty quick so my cats and kittens wouldn't get too hot. They didn't have any water, so I was in a hurry because I didn't want them to suffer any more than was absolutely necessary.

Well, it appeared there was some construction going on I-70 that day, because there were a lot of orange traffic cones narrowing all the traffic into only one lane. There was a little old lady driving a car in front of me, and she sure wasn't moving very fast.

Then, there was a man wearing black, holding what looked like an orange baton, and he waved the little old lady through.

I thought, oh no, there's been a bad wreck. But then, the man in black pointed his orange baton right at me, looked at me, and gestured that I was not to follow the old lady, instead he wanted me to exit right now into the rest area.

When I saw the initials K.B.I. emblazoned in great big red letters on the chest of his all black uniform, I knew I better do what he was emphatically letting me know what to do. The gun on his holster certainly added to the effect. Those guys sure do know how to make a point!

So, I pulled into the rest area, thinking what in the wold is this all about. A waste of time, that's for sure! And what about my cats and kittens? They're going to get hot if I stop for very long!

Oh, and by the way, I had been spending a great deal of time with my three year old niece every day for months, and we were constantly playing with the kittens. When you spend a great deal of time with a three year old, you tend to use the same vocabulary as they do. At least I did, and I was thinking of the little kittens as my kitties. That's what my three year old niece and I called them all the time.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

2) I looked around. There were a few cars parked in the rest area, a few K.B.I agents walking around in their black uniforms, and great big piles of things beside a couple of the cars.

I ended up stopping right where another K.B.I. agent was gesturing me to. I looked at him, and said, "Hi!"

He replied, "Hi, where're you going?"

"Ozawkie" was my answer, because that was where I was moving to.

"Where's that?" the K. B. I. agent asked.

"You don't know where Ozawkie is?" I asked. I couldn't believe that, it's only 30 miles away from Topeka, so he surely had heard of it.

"No," was his answer. He was lying! He knew all along where it was!

"Well, it's a little town about 30 miles northeast of Topeka," was my answer.

"Oh," he said. Then, another K.B.I. agent, also wearing a black uniform arrived on the scene. He was holding the harness of a very friendly looking big black Labrador Retriever.

Shaun Hittle 6 years, 3 months ago

Ignignokt, Good point. I've got the estimate "street value" numbers. I'll do a little math and get to you.

Shaun LJW

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

Shaun, you interrupted my story! I worked really hard to describe it exactly as it happened, and to get every single quote perfect!

Shaun Hittle 6 years, 3 months ago

sorry Ron...And Ignignokt, there's your graph added in street value. Marijuana still leads the pack...

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

3) I looked at that big black Labrador Retriever right into his big brown friendly eyes, and said, "Oh, a puppy," as I held out my hand so he could sniff the back of it. That's how you should introduce yourself to a dog, let him sniff the back of your hand. However, it is a mistake to look a dog that doesn't know you right in the eye, some dogs think of that as an act of aggression. But this dog was very friendly and polite, and didn't mind eye contact at all. He just looked politely right back at me, and then very carefully and politely sniffed the back of my hand very closely for a few seconds.

Well, the dog wasn't very interested in me, then the other K.B.I. agent headed towards the back of my car. Suddenly I remembered my kitties! This might be a bad scene! A big dog and my tiny little kitties? Oh no!

"Oh no! My kitties!" I exclaimed loudly.

The K.B.I. agent standing there never cracked a grin as he seriously asked me, "How many kitties do you have?"

"Um, I couldn't catch one, so there's three and a litter of four," I answered.

"Oh," he said.

Then suddenly I remembered that I've been arrested about three times for expired license tags. So I stuck my head out the window and hollered back at the other K.B.I. agent: "They don't expire 'till June!"

Then I sat back. Nothing to do now but wait, and I was not very happy about it. Then the K.B.I. agent standing there said, "Your kitties are going to get hot."

"Yes," I sadly answered, realizing there was no way my cats and kittens could ever understand why they had to be stuck in the cat carriers in this hot car.

Then, the K.B.I. agent looked up, I suppose at the other K.B.I. agent, looked at me, and said, "You can go now."

I smiled at him, happy to be given permission to go, waved goodbye, and headed back onto the entrance ramp of the Interstate.

I didn't even look in the rear view mirror for maybe a mile, and then I thought to myself: "Damn! I got away!"

Shane Garrett 6 years, 3 months ago

"While illegal drugs might travel through Lawrence on I-70, it’s less clear what role — if any — Lawrence plays in the larger international drug trade." What a shocking non-fact based sentence. Sounds like a government ploy to use scare tatics to bilk tax dollars from local citizens for the "uphill battle stopping drug traffickers."

Shaun Hittle 6 years, 3 months ago

Wallythewalrus, I assure you my writing of that is not a government ploy. All the law enforcement I talked to couldn't pinpoint Lawrence's role in all this. I guess it makes sense since drug carriers may not openly talk about where they got their drugs and where they were headed.

Shaun LJW

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

It would seem to me drugs are likely traveling many many many highways and skyways.

Let's cut the cost of law enforcement:

Decriminalize reefer!

somedude20 6 years, 3 months ago

Hey if Koch Industries can use the roads I don't see any reason why the drug runners can't.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

I wonder does chocolate, nicotine,alcohol and caffeine travel highways also?

Goodness gracias.

Shane Garrett 6 years, 3 months ago

Interesting read Ron. Reminded me of my Christmas trip from Fort Worth to Manhattan. Got stopped by OK state troopers. For going 71 in a 70, I was let off with a warning ticket. Damn still had those Illinois license plates on my car. But, what he really wanted to know was, who I knew in Miami, Ok. What the heck.... why whould I know anyone there? Oh, I was wearing my miami cap that I got from doing a demo job and the guy gave me a cap from his old business. LOL now, but it cost me about 45 minutes sitting along side the road. I finally relented and let them search the car. Those Shepards can be a little intimidating. But, those troopers with guns are scary.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

Wally, it's all psychology. A law enforcement officer always wants to be in total control of any situation while at work, for a couple reasons.

The first one is rather obvious, it's a safety issue. Statistically, law enforcement is among the top ten most dangerous professions in the United States. In order to avoid a ticket or an arrest, you need to make the officer realize that you present no danger at all, and get the officer to think that talking to you is a total waste of time.

Cop an attitude. You're totally innocent, dammit, you were a victim of circumstances! Eye contact, friendly attitude, body language, there are many books written on those subjects. Read them.

When an officer realizes or thinks that talking to you is a total waste of time while real crimes are occurring elsewhere, you will be allowed to leave.

The other psychological effect that comes into play is a psychiatric one. There are some law enforcement officers that are attracted to that line of work because they like to be in total control of things. More than like to, they have to be in control or their issues will become apparent by pulling out ticket books or handcuffs.

So, let the officer be in control. Again, it's all psychological. Cooperate.

About a year ago I was waiting at a place that had a security guard that was a retired police officer. He was really quiet for a long time, and then someone asked him a question, and wow did he ever let loose.

He talked about how it was so amazing how so many people are so stupid as to argue with a police officer, and by doing so, they were talking themselves into a ticket.

So many times he had pulled someone over just for a reminder that they were going a bit too fast, and after the motorist started an argument about it, he would end it by pulling out his ticket book and start writing. Go argue with the judge.

And, he said that when he first started, he used to just warn people about how fast they were going. But after working too many accident scenes and picking up too many bodies, he realized something.

The number one cause of accidents is excessive speed. Well, according to him, anyway. So, ever after that, if you were going ten or more miles per hour over the limit, he would give you a ticket for sure.

Some time ago there was a website that was operated by and for police officers in Kansas, and it was extremely interesting while it was online. What was interesting was the advice given to new officers that were just starting work in a small town where they didn't know anyone. Some of it was VERY interesting, but I'll leave that out.

One of the points made was that you should always give the locals a break on the speed limit, unless they are going really fast. Only ticket people from out of town if you can. So, if you're not from where you're at, you better not exceed the speed limit by much, if at all.

So, use psychology because it works.

Shane Garrett 6 years, 3 months ago

yes I agree, he wrote me the warning ticket, but I knew for some reason it was not over. Before I could get back in my car, he asked me to return to his cruiser. He said I seemed a little nervous. That was when, like in Tuschkahouma's story, the 20 questions started.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 3 months ago

it's just a reminder to scare people into tougher laws next election cycle.

pace 6 years, 3 months ago

Maybe we could close or privatize the highways. ask the Koch bros if we could use their oil slicked straight road to DC? Just because the tax payers built the major highways over the decades is not a reason Brownback shouldn't sell them cheap to a private entity, maybe someone from a corporation he is friends with. They could then keep anyone they wanted from traveling, anyone without a Koch pass. No reason a person who couldn't afford a Koch pass or not pass a Koch investigation should be traveling on the new privatized highway.

IT is time the prohibition on marijuana should turn into a taxed and a regulated industry, as other sins, tobacco and booze. Maybe instead of using the taxes to support corporate welfare we could direct it to education, housing, jobs, and medicaid, jobs, jobs, jobs.

We could pour more of our money into beefing up stopping some of the trucks of the cartels a thousand miles from the border. I assume we are still confiscating the trucks, cars and cash for local authorities. Our cut of the take.

Reform of the border, to me, means stopping the corporate and industrial illegal hiring, to establish working temporary (a real one) visa program, and maybe we should quit pretending the joint is a bigger problem than the cartels. I would prefer to see millions spent fighting the cartels than millions spent on stopping trucks by tip or chance.

Corruption is the weak link in fighting the cartels. I don't consider the highway patrol corrupt, they are probably as frustrated as most of us. They deserve better orders from the top.

pace 6 years, 3 months ago

So you want to sell the state highways to someone? Gee my family have been paying for them for decades, mmm. I hope king Brownback at least gets a penny on our dollar. Desperate times means that open roads should not be owned by the tax payers but by the 1%. Less commerce but a few jobs for toll taker machine repair people.

pace 6 years, 3 months ago

All you got is denigration. You look at what King Brownback is destroying. Kansans were right to be proud of their state, now it is being torn up, savaged and sold , and sold to a low bidder. Education,-burnt, protection of children,-halved. Environment pawned to oil futures. Only thing Koch/Brownback reveres are the tax shelters for the wealthiest, now those are sure safe. It will take decades for this country to repair from Bush's reign, and decades to rebuild after King Brownback spoil..

MarcoPogo 6 years, 3 months ago

Well, if they're running drugs through Douglas County on Saturday, they might want to know about the saturation patrols planned.

blindrabbit 6 years, 3 months ago

pace: It would only be 49 states if we let Bush, Jr. (Perry) seceed from the Union as he threatened last year.

pace 6 years, 3 months ago

I have lived in Texas, I liked it. I like Kansas, the politicians of both are enough to make me ashamed and queasy to my stomache. but the people I know here and there,, hard working, family, singles, different classes, races, churches, were good neighbors, good people. They need decent jobs. the kids need good schools. We are letting working families down, selling them like cattle to corporate "friends".

sad_lawrencian 6 years, 3 months ago

The drug traffickers will always find a way to get their product from point A to point B. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 3 months ago

40 years and a trillion dollars have gone into the war on drugs. Yet today, the quality is far superior, and it is easier for a kid in high school to obtain marijuana than alcohol or cigarettes.
The war on drugs is a dismal failure at what it promised to do. But this war on American citizens and millions around the world, is about money; It supports the thriving corporate prison system, gun manufacturers, and the militarization of local police forces, all while eroding public confidence, raising crime rates, and lining the pockets of bureaucrats.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 3 months ago

Yes. Ending prohibition is a good thing. You'd think we might be able to learn something from history...

mloburgio 6 years, 3 months ago

If Americans could grow pot legally they wouldn't import any from Mexico.

secrettoalonglife 6 years, 3 months ago

Legalize it, tax it, take your cut, America.

Mike Ford 6 years, 3 months ago

My wife and I were heading north to the OK 66 exit on I-35 in Edmond, OK, to catch the highway and go out to the Route 66 museum in Clinton. We'd went to an OKC Thunder game the night before. February 8, 2009 was the date when the OK County Sherriffs Dept. Charger pulled me over and told me to keep my hands out of my pocket. He separated my wife and I and did twenty questions. I've been profiled before. I forgot to tie up my hair so Iooked like a perp. Twenty questions later we were allowed to go. Six months later we were coming up 35 from McAlister, Ada, and Norman from the Choctaw labor day gathering in Tuschkahouma and at the same spot I saw an older Black gentlemen in a Buick and a van from Minnesota with many Mexican people in it pulled over where we were pulled over and I figured out they profiled at will at that very spot on I 35. I also remember driving I-20 out of Atlanta towards Birmingham, Banjobama, and I remember seeing what looked like every cop car in this small Alabama town along the interstate looking out for outsiders as I drove my recently purchased car back to Kansas through Banjobama. My tribe named Alabama and those dimwits probably would've asked me for papers knowing them.

thebigspoon 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow I would have never thought this would or could happen...

HogJiver 6 years, 3 months ago

maybe they need to dig a tunnel under Lawrence

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