Operation 700 Ranch Round-Up
(Dallas, TX) Dallas Field Division Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Gary Olenkiewicz and Sheldon Sperling, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, are pleased to announce the indictment and arrest of over one hundred people on drug related charges in South Central Oklahoma and Northern Texas. There were 15 Federal Indictments for Conspiracy and Distribution of methamphetamine, and 88 State of Oklahoma and State of Texas Indictments for additional drug charges.
This investigation, which began in May 2005, targeted methamphetamine traffickers based in North Texas and South Central Oklahoma. The agencies listed above asked for assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) assigned in Dallas, Texas. MET along with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN), Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), Chickasaw Indian Nation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) also participated in this important investigation.
DEA Dallas Special Agent in Charge Gary Olenkiewicz noted, "Dedication, commitment, passion, integrity are all characteristics that are exemplified by the fine professional law enforcement agencies that worked long and so hard to make South Central Oklahoma and North Texas a safer place to live for the citizens of all the communities affected. Our hope is this will have a lasting positive impact on the quality of life in these areas."
Investigators determined that methamphetamine was being supplied to the South Central Oklahoma area primarily by several traffickers based in North Texas. Officers in both states conducted surveillance, made undercover drug purchases, executed search and arrest warrants and used other investigative techniques to gather the evidence needed for indictment and prosecution.
Fifteen of the indicted defendants will be prosecuted federally in Oklahoma and Texas. The remaining defendants will be prosecuted in state courts in Texas and Oklahoma. This successful investigation would not have been possible without the "team attitude" displayed from all of the various police agencies. Both state and federal prosecutors were very supportive of the planned operation and have been involved in the decision making process from the start.
This investigation has already had a significant impact on the availability of methamphetamine in South Central Oklahoma and North Texas. Prior to today’s enforcement action, approximately $161,000 in U.S. currency, 49 weapons and fifteen pounds of methamphetamine was seized.
One hundred and three defendants were indicted as a direct result of this investigation. 9 federal defendants and 44 state defendants were arrested early this morning in and around Ardmore, Oklahoma and Gainesville, Texas. Several were already in custody on charges that were filed earlier, and some were in various jails on other charges.
The Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) deploys upon request from local communities to partner with local agencies to bring federal, state and local resources together to dismantle drug trafficking organizations. The DEA established the MET initiative in 1995 to assist local agencies that may not have the staff, money, and prosecution strength necessary to stop sophisticated narcotics operations. By working with these agencies to target organizations causing drug related violence and arrest key individuals for methamphetamine trafficking, MET has helped reduce violence in dozens of communities across America.
U.S Attorney Sheldon Sperling stated "The 700 Ranch Roundup combines the Eastern District’s Project Safe Neighborhoods and Anti-Gang initiatives to target our most serious drug and gun offenders for federal prosecution, by simultaneously bringing local, state and federal authorities to bear upon this dangerous street gang. Today, through this coordinated effort, over one hundred drug dealers will be arrested for state and federal prosecution. The federal targets represent the leaders of an organization planted here in Southern Oklahoma and Northeastern Texas by a violent street gang in Chicago known as Satan’s Disciples. After a year of intense, cooperative, undercover activity, this operation stands as an example of what can be accomplished when agents at all levels of government work together for the good of their communities."
District Attorney Craig Ladd agreed, adding, "This joint effort of federal agencies working with state and local agencies is a wonderful example of how extraordinary things can be accomplished when we pool our resources and work together towards a common goal. I am confident that this investigation and the resultant prosecutions will serve as a major blow to drug trafficking in southern Oklahoma and I want to commend the DEA, OSBI, District Attorney’s Drug Task Force, Ardmore Police Department, Carter County Sheriff’s Department, OBN, OHP and the Gainesville, Texas Police Department for their collective efforts in this investigation and roundup."
Ardmore Police Chief J. Hughes stated, "I am very pleased with the results of the investigation. This investigation proves that if federal, state and local law enforcement authorities work together that it can make a dramatic impact on the local drug and crime problems. We as a Department forward to future endeavors of this type."
"Today, the citizens of Carter County will see the results of nine months of concentrated investigative efforts by a joint local, state and federal task force targeting methamphetamine distribution. I would like to personally thank all of the agencies and their investigators from Oklahoma and Texas who have dedicated themselves to this effort for so long. Without this joint effort, many of the individuals involved in the trafficking of drugs in Carter County could not have been stopped. Tonight we will be sleeping in a safer county," said Carter County Sheriff Harvey Burkhart
A. DeWade Langley, OSBI Director, noted the high level of cooperation between all agencies involved in the operation. "The people of Oklahoma can be proud of their law enforcement agencies at all levels – municipal, county, state and federal. The cooperation between all agencies was outstanding and I think it shows in the success of this operation. All of the men and women involved with this investigation are to be commended for their willingness to do what is necessary to keep Oklahoma safe."
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control spokesman, Mark Woodward stated, "Methamphetamine is leaving a path of destruction in communities all across the United States. Meth or "ice" as it is called on the streets has ruined lives, destroyed families and resulted in the deaths of many, including those in law enforcement. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is proud to work with the numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma and Texas committed to halting the distribution of the evil drug."