The High Way: Tackling drug trafficking in Alabama

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - "It's covert, it's hidden among the innocent, motoring public. Just as we're driving down the road right now," says one Alabama State Trooper who wishes to keep his identity hidden to keep from jeopardizing drug investigations.

A trip down I-85 may seem routine, but for Alabama State Troopers there's more to the cars than meets the eye.

It's a reality troopers face with every traffic stop they make--drug traffickers that use Alabama's highways to perpetuate an industry local police say is behind nearly 90% of all crime.

"You got a consumer out there to sell a product to turn a profit…then that user will turn around and victimize someone else whether it's a robbery, or a burglary or something like that," says the trooper.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana make up the bulk of drugs in and out of Alabama.

Much of that, done by Colombian, Mexican, and Caribbean drug trafficking organizations.

"It can be very taxing, psychologically and mentally taxing," says Lt. David Williams, the head of Prattville Police Department's drug enforcement unit.

He says drug dealers play by their own rules.

"They have no sense of time.  They don't have the same sleeping and eating patterns normal folks do. They're a whole entity in themselves and to be able to have some success in enforcing the drug laws, you have to be able to adapt to that kind of schedule," says Williams.

But it's not only the schedule.  There are new tactics, too.

"They can network through Facebook and MySpace or texting and cell phones," he says.

Even motorists say they're steering clear of suspicious activity.

"If they know they getting pulled over and they know they got drugs, ya know some people react different ways and I'd try to get from around that situation just so I won't be in the middle of it," says Kamika Partlow.

"I just wish they'd find a way to get rid of it.  We'd have a better, safer place," adds one driver.

State troopers use tools the United States Border Patrol officers use to find narcotics coming in from Mexico. That's where the DEA believes 80% of drugs in the United States originate.

Troopers say Alabama is a thoroughfare to bigger drug hubs like Atlanta.

"You've got I-10, I-20, and of course the I-65, I-85 interchange which is crossing the southeast to get to the east coast," adds the trooper.

It's a scary truth even for the guys who fight it everyday.

"It's a whole other world...networking world under there," says Williams.

"Ya know, my loved ones are out here, innocent people are out here and you got drug traffickers out here with them," adds Sgt. Steve Jarrett with the Alabama State Troopers.

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