287, Drug Superhighway

287, Drug Superhighway
Highway 287 has thousands of traffic stops done on it that become drug busts every year. (Source: RNN Texoma)

One of Texoma's main traffic arteries is showing signs of becoming a "drug superhighway".

Just 2-years ago, only a couple of major drug busts in Wichita County were made on U.S. Highway 287. In 2014, there were 11 major busts between the Wichita County Sheriff's Office, and the Department of Public Safety. We wanted to find out why.

From more than 100 pounds of pot in one bust. To hash oil and pills. To more than $3-million in synthetic marijuana. All from simple traffic stops on Highway 287 in Wichita County. Those big busts more than doubled last year.

"We've known it's coming through here," said Wichita County Sheriff David Duke.  "It's having the manpower and the right tools to find it. To catch it, and to fight it."

Sheriff David Duke says the addition of 2 more K9 officers, for a total of three dogs, has given his office the tools they need to help get the bad guys and the bad stuff off the streets. All of that comes with the cooperation of other Texoma agencies.

"They all work together. It's a good group of guys who have a mission for wanting to help," said Sheriff Duke. "To use these dogs as a tool to find drugs, and that's what they do. They all train together. It's a good working relationship with all of these agencies, and everybody helping each other."

Sheriff Duke feels the busts are on the rise because of the tools he now has along with better enforcement. Department of Public Safety Trooper Tony Fulton believes, it's the drug dealers taking advantage of legal sales in California and Colorado.

"I think the legalization of it in these states has made that it's just more readily accessible to people," said DPS Trooper Tony Fulton." I think that's one of the big factors to cause our arrests to go up."

States like Oklahoma and Nebraska also reports a large number of busts. Trooper Fulton says, it's not extra troopers, but more traffic.

"Our guys are just out there doing what they do, day in and day out," said Trooper Fulton. "They're working the highways, and as more of this is coming down the road, we just see more arrests being made for it."

DPS troopers will continue to do what they do to keep the highways safe. Sheriff Duke is ready to take the next step, with the specialized training of deputies.

"We're fixing to start with our interdiction team. Where we have a deputy, that's assigned. 2 deputies assigned together as an interdiction team. 1 of them has a K9. Both of them have been very well trained in highway interdiction and drug detection, including the dog. The dogs are excellent dogs. They're a perfect tool to use," said Sheriff Duke.

Trooper Fulton told us the profit margin for buying marijuana in Colorado, and then bringing it to Texas to sell, is worth it to those who don't get caught. Colorado law says you can buy 1-ounce of pot per day, if you are a resident. Nonresidents are limited to a quarter-ounce per purchase. But, it appears there is no limit to how many purchases you can make each day. So in theory, if you know a resident of the state, they could purchase as many 1-ounce sales that store hours would allow each day. Then sell it or give it to you to drive back and sell illegally in Texas. The second you leave the state of Colorado with pot, you're breaking the law and you should know, that law enforcement is watching. Judging from the size of some of the busts, many are willing to take that chance.

, Newschannel 6