Making strides in war against drugs

February 2, 2009 4:32:25 PM PST
Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine -- Houston has long been known as a major drug trafficking area. But now, it appears drug dealers are taking a different approach to getting illegal substances to cities across the country.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Law enforcement officials have seen a noticeable shift in the way drugs from Mexico are being moved through the Houston area. The Department of Justice says Houston and its surrounding counties are one of the most used routes for drug traffickers. Now Fort Bend County has seen a major spike in drug seizures.

From the Mexican border all the way to Houston, narcotics investigations take an unbelievable amount of manpower and cooperation between all the different law enforcement agencies. Investigations that are yielding record amounts of cocaine along one very popular stretch of highway.

In the last two years, drug agents from the Fort Bend County Narcotics Task Force have interrupted several major cocaine deliveries on Highway 59. Narcotics investigations targeting organized drug traffickers in Fort Bend County are not only becoming more frequent, agents are seizing cocaine in record amounts.

"I don't think they are changing their habits," said an undercover agent with that task force. "I like to say we are getting smarter to see their habits and able to identify them and pass intelligence."

According to the US Department of Justice's national drug intelligence center, cocaine seizure amounts are up more than 500 percent in Fort Bend County, more than 250 percent in Galveston County- and down 69 percent in Harris County.

"We're disrupting drug trafficking organizations. We've dismantled a few and we just continue to work hard," the undercover agent said.

Drug agents credit a federal program called High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDA, for their success. In addition to providing additional training, agents are allowed to work overtime. Many of the undercover operations and investigations entail long hours and may even take days. Without that program, it would be business as usual, which wouldn't cut it.

The agent said, "We're just out here doing a job, trying to do the best we can with what we have. I think we're fortunate that we have the funding from the government."

Agents are hoping for additional resources and money as they step up efforts along Highway 59.

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