A large drug ring out of Oklahoma State Penitentiary was just shut down, stopping the flow of meth in and out of prison walls in McAlester.
Multiple agencies across Oklahoma worked together to shut down the organized crime. Officials saying that just one cell phone inside prison walls started the drug ring. Once methamphetamine's starting showing up in counties throughout Oklahoma, law enforcement stepped in.
Now, 17 people have been indicted for conspiracy to pedal meth and more charges are still to come, investigators say.
"I know that there is violence associated with this organization," said Calvin Bond with the DEA ASAC, "and unfortunately that's very common and a lot of time it's intimidation to keep people from talking or cooperating."
Bond said the leader of the drug ring, Cody McClendon, is also a member of the Indian Brotherhood -- a prison gang comprised of mostly Native American inmates. Police said his affiliation with this gang along with those violent fear tactics, the organization was able to expand. They added that the primary way of expanding that team was through use of contraband cell phones. A tip led investigators to the arrests.
Oklahoma's Bureau of Narcotics Director, John Scully, said the key to helping the community was dismantling the ring once they knew it existed. "When you can take a drug trafficking organization like that," Scully said, "and you can dismantle that, then you make an impact in the community"
The investigation lasted a year and involved more than a dozen agencies.
"You know, we as law enforcement have to be cognizant of the fact that crime doesn't stop at county lines, and it doesn't stop at city limits, it doesn't stop where our jurisdiction does, and we've really got to reach out neighboring agencies and help defeat organized crime," said Nate King, Chief of Police in Tahlequah.
So far 43 charges have been filed in the case and all the agencies are actively investigating an loose hairs. Their goal is to stop it now so the drug ring does not grow again.
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