The Drug Enforcement Agency claims the legal sale of marijuana will strengthen the drug black market, including the cartels that travel through Texas. With a greater demand for marijuana, drug enforcement experts are encouraging officers in every department nationwide to learn how to stop trafficking.
"Where are you coming from?"
Rollingwood Detective Joel Martin cycles through a list of questions.
"Where's your girlfriend live?"
Each should evoke a simple answer. When it doesn't, Martin gets suspicious.
"Who's stereo is in the backseat? Who does that belong to?"
On this night, Martin is called in to assist on a DWI stop. The driver also has marijuana on him.
It's a small amount, but its good practice. His next stop could interrupt a major-drug operation.
On May 21st of 2011, Martin pulled over the driver of an SUV for speeding on Bee Cave Road.
What he encountered still makes him uneasy.
"He had stacks of $20 dollar bills laid across his lap. He was counting while he was driving. He had a scale to the right of him with white powder," Martin said.
Keep in mind, this is tiny Rollingwood, west of the Austin city limits. The patrol area measures 1 1/2 square miles.
Martin put the driver in handcuffs.
"I don't like the feeling I have in the pit of my stomach," Martin says reviewing the video.
That feeling was spot on. The driver, 24-year-old Ceasar Jaimes, is the son of a La Familia drug cartel leader. Unbeknownst to Martin at the time, a "chase vehicle" likely filled with armed co-conspirators was circling him. For some reason, they drove off without confrontation.
Once Jaimes' vehicle was searched, Martin says a kilogram of cocaine was recovered behind the dash.
The seized money would pay for Martin and other Rollingwood officers to go through what's called drug interdiction training. Interdiction means a high volume of traffic stops, knowing the clues of illegal activity and where to search for hidden drugs.
Dave Frye is an expert in the field.
"Drugs enter every community in this country, every single community. Officers within these communities need to be prepared to fight that war," said Frye.
Frye is a former state trooper. He now trains others for a company called Desert Snow.
We caught up with him in Austin as shared the secrets of the trade with Central Texas agencies.
"There you can see a firearm concealed inside the air breather. I've personally seized firearms from this location," Frye said.
He says the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has created a big increase in demand for high grade marijuana and a new batch of illegal distributors.
"You have what I would refer to as entrepreneurs who say I'm a resident of Texas my community has a lot of drugs users and they need ways to get those drugs," Frye said.
Back in Rollingwood, Martin rarely strikes out when on patrol.
"It's a constant flow of narcotics." Martin said.
As you can imagine the drug enforcement agency is critical of the legalization of marijuana.
An agency spokesperson tells FOX 7, investigators are monitoring the situation with the expectancy the cartels will try to infiltrate the Colorado store owners. He says the social costs will far grow and outweigh the tax benefits.