If you are planning to take a drug trafficking road trip, you might want to check the weather conditions first. That is a lesson two Mexican citizens have learned the hard way.
The Canadian County Sheriff’s Department responded to a motor vehicle accident at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, a morning in which Oklahoma highways were covered with ice after a night of freezing rain, sleet, and snow. The accident occurred near mile marker 125 on I-40 when a Chevy Tahoe slid on the ice and crashed into the cable barriers along the interstate.
According to a local news report, Sheriff’s deputies became suspicious of the two vehicle occupants, Jamie Avila and Humberto Beltran-Flores, and requested a K-9 unit at the wrecker yard. When the drug dog detected the presence of drugs in the vehicle, deputies obtained a search warrant and found 10 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment in the vehicle.
Police say both men have criminal records for drug and weapons crimes. Furthermore, Beltran-Flores has previously been deported and is not allowed in the United States.
Oklahoma is known for its high rate of meth abuse, and Tulsa even earned the nickname “The Meth Capital of the World” for the large number of working and abandoned meth labs found in Tulsa County. Still, despite the relatively easy manufacture of methamphetamine in “one-pot labs,” the state laws and the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry have made it more difficult to obtain the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine used in manufacturing meth. Reports show a decline in the number of meth lab seizures in Oklahoma, which has opened the doors for the import and trafficking of Mexican meth.
According to this source, Mexican meth comes into the state at a rate of 25 pounds per week, enough for 24,000 hits. The purity of meth from Mexico is often 70 to 80 percent, making it much more potent than the meth manufactured in home labs across the state. In 2005, Oklahoma District Attorneys Council task force coordinator Tom Cunningham said of the state’s meth problem and laws making it more difficult to obtain meth precursors, “We took away their production. That didn’t do anything for their addiction” (source).
Under the Oklahoma Trafficking in Illegal Drugs Act (63 O.S. 2-415), it is considered trafficking for anyone to “knowingly distribute, manufacture, bring into this state, or possess” methamphetamine or controlled substances with the intent to manufacture meth in a quantity of 10 grams or more:
- 30 tablets or 10 grams of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine carries a fine of $25,000 to $100,000
- 100 tablets or 30 grams of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine carries a fine of $100,000 to $500,000
There are nearly 11,340 grams in 25 pounds.
Penalties for drug trafficking carry minimum sentences that are double those associated with possession with intent to distribute, making the sentence for drug trafficking 4 years to life in prison. However, repeat offenses and aggravated trafficking bring enhanced penalties, including life in prison without parole.