LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They're pulling piles of drugs and cash off our streets and WDRB has the pictures to prove it.
The seizures include kilos of heroin, a shotgun and about $300,000 in cash. For the first time, we're seeing pictures of drugs confiscated by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of Louisville.
"Most of the drugs we see in Louisville are brought across the Mexican border," said DEA Resident Agent in Charge Jim Scott. "There are several Mexican cartel organizations. They set up cells in major distribution centers in the U.S."
In one picture, you can see about 25 pounds of crystal meth -- commonly called ICE -- recently seized in Louisville.
Scott has this to say about drug seizures:
"It's really spread throughout the city," he said. "We do work in the west of town to a certain extent, then you quickly spread out to the Metro area. Particularly the Mexican cartels, the cell heads that operate here don't like to be in the center of town. They like to be more spread out. They like to see what's going on around them and you find that in the more rural areas, the more remote areas."
Scott says the war on drugs continues to be difficult with so many people bringing drugs to Kentucky.
"It's not uncommon for us to spread to E-town and other places like that," Scott said. "They really will operate anywhere and then have their distributors that will be in the center city."
When asked how busy the National Turnpike area is, Scott says, "It's a busy area. The south end has seen an increase. We've seen an increase in the number of traffickers operating in that area."
DEA Louisville found about $300,000 in a vehicle and in another case, agents cracked open a safe and found about $200,000 in cash.
In January, WDRB took you to Riverside, California, more than 2,000 miles from Louisville to track the drug pipeline. The drugs come from Mexico to an area of Southern California commonly called the "Inland Empire." The drugs are then driven and flown into areas like ours.
"We almost have, like, a grim reaper that has been let loose in this city that is the heroin and opiate abuse epidemic, and our time and attention are focused on the organizations that are peddling that poison in our community," Scott said.
Back in 2013: DEA Louisville confiscated more than five kilos of heroin. The number dropped a little in 2014, but in 2015 it more than tripled to 18.9 kilos and this year so far over 22 kilos.
The DEA says a local distributor will pay between $60,000 to $80,000 for a kilo of heroin. Then it's broken down and sold for $1,200 to $3,000 an ounce.
"Almost all the methamphetamine and heroin that we see is coming from Mexico," Scott said.
The DEA confiscated 6 pounds of meth in 2013, then it jumped to a whopping 65 pounds in 2014, 66 pounds in 2015 and so far this year: 80 pounds.
The DEA says a distributor will pay between $8,000 to $12,000 for a pound of crystal meth. Broken down, an ounce sells for $500 to $1,000.
"There are several key players in the area," Scott said. "I can't go into any specifics of any individual case. We've had a lot of success lately. We've taken down some cell heads who were operating on a major scale and ties directly back to Mexico."
Scott says while Cartel members themselves may not be living in Louisville, they do have people here working on their behalf.
He says, "Geographically their reach is endless. They are everywhere and can get everywhere. We have a lot of dedicated men and women who work really hard to stem that growth. We've had a lot of success, but it'll always be a challenge."
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