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Joint effort lands eight people in jail on drug charges

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ALTUS, Okla._Several Jackson and Harmon County residents started off their weekend by landing behind bars after a drug raid in Altus.

Eight people were arrested on drug charges and three others were arrested on outstanding warrants from various agencies. One house on north Crain in Altus was the site of the early morning raid where two residents were arrested.

This multi-agency bust was an effort to get drugs off the street and bring dealers to justice. District Attorney John Wampler says it took a lot of planning and several months of preparation to get this operation underway.

The residence on north Crain was just one of several residences that were raided on Friday. It was the home of Freddy Esquivel and his mother, Maria Esquivel. Wampler says they found a substantial amount of methamphetamine in the house. He also suspects their charges will be upgraded from two counts of drug distribution to drug trafficking charges. Wampler thinks these arrests will have a significant impact on the drug problem in Altus.

"There weren't any huge deals involved in this. But even street deals, it's important to get them off the street because they are the ones out there making the transactions, making it available," said Wampler.

Wampler says even though no major drug dealers were arrested, sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

"We like to try and work our way up the ladder and get to the big dealers, the ones that are bringing the stuff into Jackson County. That's not always possible," explained Wampler.

He says sometimes, getting drugs and dealers off the street seems like an endless battle.

"We go out and round up people and make arrests and we make a dent in the drug problem and then it seems like there is always someone else willing to step up and start selling the drugs. As long as there is a demand for them, I'm satisfied that it's going to continue," said Wampler.

Wampler says the hardest part about prosecution and law enforcement is measuring the affect they are having on the community.

"We can definitely look at the number of people that have been arrested, the number of people that we send to prison, how long they're gone. We can gather those statistics. It's difficult to know if we weren't doing this how much bigger the problem would be," said Wampler.

All of the suspects are currently being held at the Jackson County jail until Thursday, when they make their first appearance in front of a judge at the Jackson County courthouse.

Wampler will be presenting the contract for the District Three DA Drug Task Force at Tuesday night's city council meeting in Altus, and the council is expected to vote to approve the contract for the following year.

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