I-40 Drug Busts, Worth the Effort?

Winning the war on drugs in the panhandle.

When you look at how much  cocaine, meth, and marijuana is caught on Interstate 40 every day, it may look like we have a good grasp.

But as NewsChannel 10's Marissa Bagg reveals in a live report, it's nothing compared to what flies under the radar.

D.P.S. patrols are highly trained to sniff out drugs when they pull someone over along I-40.

Last year they uncovered $20 million worth along the Interstate.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg compared to what really comes through our backyard.

So is the effort worth it...

"They know when they pull dope off the road that money might have been fed back into terrorism to fund it," says Trooper Wayne Beighle.

Beighle says every drug bust however small, is worth it.

When you add them all up, 157 busts were made along I-40 in the panhandle in 2006, and that's more than similar stretches of the interstate in New Mexico and Oklahoma combined.

"I think if you took any stretch of interstate and compared it to the 120 miles of I-40 in panhandle you'll find more drug seizures on that stretch that any other stretch in the state of Texas," says Beighle.

So what makes it difficult for troopers to find the drugs?

Well, first of all, they have to nab drivers on a moving violation.

Our cameras were rolling when Trooper Jason Lindley pulled this car over for speeding.

Often what tips them off is when people's stories don't match...

"Doing the interview with both parties in the vehicle there were several indicators that were conflicting in their stories so things didn't add up," says Lindley.

Troopers try to keep up with the changes that come with the war on drugs.

Searches are turning up more meth busts along I-40 in all three states, because the drug is now harder to manufacture in the area.

"Meth is what we seeing an increase in, it's the poor man's cocaine amd we see more an more of it imported from old Mexico and Central America," says Beighle.

And runners are getting sneakier trying to hide their stash.

"A lot of vehicles are building compartments into the structure and body of the vehicle and they're getting good at it it's getting harder and harder to find," says Lindley.

One thing troopers can count on is they are patrolling the highway that likely transports the most drugs in the country.

"I-40 is enticing you don't need a map or a G.P.S., you just get on this great highway, and it's the path of least resistance like water," says Beighle.

Since the first of the year troopers have made nearly 30 drug busts along I-40, worth over $2 million.

That seems to be right on track with what they confiscated last year.