From rappelling out of helicopters to serving search warrants, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics conducted a tactical training exercise Thursday (Aug. 15) in southeastern Oklahoma.
The narcotics agents demonstrated how they use different techniques to bust large-scale marijuana growing operations across the state. Authorities from Sequoyah and LeFlore Counties, as well as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and their helicopter, were on hand to help with the exercise.
“The helicopter is a huge asset to us,” said OBN director Darrell Weaver. “You've got to remember that we have tough terrain here in Oklahoma so if you put a team on the ground it takes forever to bust through the brush and find those plants.”
The agents went through real life situations as they repelled out of a helicopter as part of the exercise.
“We're going through our checklist of things we have in our head and what we need to do to make sure that our ropes hit the ground and our bags and stuff,” said one of the agents taking part in the exercise. “We look down to make sure it's clear of obstacles. Basically, we just go through that checklist to make sure we will have a safe repel and get on the ground without getting injured.”
Once they're on the ground, the agents say their next step is to secure the perimeter, looking for any potential threats.
“Once that's clear then we would allow for a ground team to come in,” he said. “And then at that point in time, we would collect our evidence and stuff and then start cutting down the plants and pulling out the plants.”
So far across the state, undercover agents have made eight large-scale marijuana busts this year, cashing in at a street value of more than $2 million.
“It's been a standard summer for us,” said Mark Woodward with OBN. “So we're just going to keep the pressure on them until the first freeze and then the weather will take care of it for us.”
The OBN has trained agents to spot a marijuana plant at a thousand feet away. Agents said they specifically look for the plant's Christmas green color and feathered texture. They go through rigorous training throughout the year.