Feds bust gang drug traffickers

Lawton_One of the biggest drug dealers in Southwestern Oklahoma is behind bars Friday following a drug sweep that spanned from Oklahoma City to Altus.  The US Attorney for Western Oklahoma says a total of 26 people were arrested on drug trafficking charges - including two Altus men.

Federal prosecutors say they are all members or associates of gangs in Altus and Oklahoma City.  The sweep follows a more than year long investigation involving federal, state and local authorities.  Prosecutors say the leader of a street gang in Altus was buying and selling large amounts of ice methamphetamine in Southwest Oklahoma.  Authorities say he was getting it from members of another gang in Oklahoma City.

District Attorney John Wampler tells 7News that Adrian Borrego - the mastermind of the East Side Vario Segundo gang in Altus was arrested on state drug charges last year, but they were later dropped.  After that, federal, state, and local narcotics officers began to keep a close eye on him and eventually, they say, they caught him in the act of buying and selling thousands of dollars worth of meth from Oklahoma City gang leaders.

Borrego's operation came to an end Thursday as authorities swooped in and arrested him.  "We knocked a pretty big hole in the problem in Southwest Oklahoma," says Wampler.  But, US Attorney John Richter says getting drugs off the street is only part of the success of the sweep.  "When it comes to fighting gangs, we know one thing, we must strike early before it becomes a big problem," he says.  It's a problem that over the past few months has led to several shootings in Altus.

"Gangs are a problem in Oklahoma," says the state's top narcotics officer Darrell Weaver.  "Gangs are a problem in Oklahoma.  They want despair, they want agony, they want grief in your communities."  And, when the gang drug operations span several cities and counties, local authorities say it's next to impossible for them to stop it without help from the top.

"By bringing all of our federal state and our local resources together in this fashion, we're maximizing our coordination, development of intelligence we're able to share with one another and execute a plan in going after gangs," says Weaver.  "It gives us a lot more punch sometimes that what we have locally."

Another Altus man was also arrested in the sweep - prosecutors say he is Jeffrey Shepherd.  He's accused of selling crack cocaine, but nowhere near the amount of some of the others who were busted.  Earlier this year, former US Attorney Alberto Gonzales approved a $2.5M grant to fight gangs in Oklahoma City - some of that money was used for this operation.