HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The interstate highway system is one of the easiest and most common ways for traffickers to transport drugs.
More than 200 officers from Mississippi and other states got a lesson in interstate interdiction Wednesday.
Interdiction means that these law enforcement agencies are trying to enhance their department’s control since drug trafficking isn’t stopping.
“It’s very rare that we don’t have something going on every month. Something major, a major bust of some sort,” said Lt. Brandon Hendry with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office.
Hendry is an interdiction officer. Part of his job means he has to patrol the interstate, looking for smugglers and traffickers.
“There’s no secret formula that we use to identify cars or people as they pass by,” he said.
Interstate interdiction typically starts with a routine traffic stop.
“We use our training and experience to take that traffic stop one step further,” Hendry said.
The officers can get training in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area programs led by agencies like Homeland Security. The officers are taught to look for certain signs that could point out possible drug trafficking.
“Are they nervous? How is the car registered? There’s a lot of different things the interdiction officers are taught to look for when they make a traffic stop,” said Special Agent Jere Miles with the Department of Homeland Security.
If a search is warranted, they also learn to look for hidden compartments that may be storing drugs or other illegal items.
“I’ve seen compartments anywhere you can imagine in car. Drug smugglers take drugs or money and place them inside of the tire, inflate the tire with air and put the tire on the car," Miles said.
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security consider what local officers see to be a microcosm of a bigger problem. That’s why the local officers and the federal agents work together and report to each other about what activities they uncover on the interstate.
“If we do more than just take money and drugs, then we actually take out what we would consider to be the head of an organization, so the organization cannot function anymore," Miles said.
Miles also said it’s important for the public to see federal and local agencies working together to crack down on crime and drug trafficking.