State and federal law officers said they disrupted a Mexico-based methamphetamine ring that moved as much as 10 pounds of the illegal drug into central Oklahoma each week when they arrested 17 people Monday during early morning raids.
The heart of the drug distribution network runs through central Oklahoma, said Marlon Miller, deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations' Dallas office.
“Today we pulled the plug on a methamphetamine-smuggling operation starting in Mexico and extending into Oklahoma and other parts of the United States,” Miller said.
Law officers raided homes across the Oklahoma City area, knocking on doors — breaking some down — to serve 38 arrest warrants.
Darrell Weaver, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, said the investigation started two years ago and will continue.
“The veins and arteries of this particular group go to California, Arizona, Kansas; there are multiple locations,” Weaver said.
“This is a huge organization that has been dismantled.”
Arrests started about 7 a.m. as law officers fanned out from a mobile command post in northwest Oklahoma City.
By 6 p.m., the warrant sweep teams had completed their search of secondary residences and locations and had gone home for the night, bureau spokesman Mark Woodward said.
He said more arrests are expected during the next few days as officers continue their search and those with warrants surrender.
Monday's raids followed a similar operation June 27, when 33 people were arrested, most on warrants, out of Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties.
Woodward said the two recent raids are not connected but are the result of separate investigations.
“It's what our agency does 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We've got agents statewide focusing on dealers and distributors in their area,” Woodward said.
“The most critical thing is have we identify everyone involved first,” he said.
Agents may learn of additional players during interviews and tips from the public about known players in drug operations. Those tips are investigated and often lead to more arrests, Woodward said.
“They need somebody to distribute the drugs and to get the money back to Mexico, and they won't send just anybody. When you get these people removed, they can't be replaced overnight. They're too valuable to the cartels,” Woodward said.
“We want to get them identified and removed before they can really get a foothold in Oklahoma,” he said.
Arrested Monday were:
• Miguel Angel Aguirre, 33, of Oklahoma City
• Adrienne Inez Santos, 43, of Oklahoma City
• Larry D. Black
• Julio Cesar Lopez Jacobo
• Jerrie Lavon Stilwell, 50, of Edmond
• Jacob Lynn Stilwell, 27, of Edmond
• David Wade McCurley, 47, of Oklahoma City
• Christopher B. Hiddleston, 26, of Midwest City
• Glen Salisbury
• Charles William Reed, 30, of Del City
• Kevin Dale Bolter, 38 of Oklahoma City
• Jesus Mora Herrera
• Kimberly Michelle Gallina, 29, of Oklahoma City
• Steven H. Hunter
• Seth Harvey Speed, 31, of Oklahoma City
• Herman Zasueta Beltran
• Kalli Reann McClure
Others still are being sought.