The WAAY 31 I-TEAM is digging deeper into a drug bust that sent dozens of people to jail. The arrests are part of the fight against a growing cartel presence in North Alabama.
Investigators said drug agents smuggled drugs across the border from Mexico into California. Agents believe the men then used the U.S. Postal Service to send meth to North Alabama.
Clay Morris with the DEA called the 38 people facing federal charges the first step in stopping the cartels from bringing dangerous drugs to North Alabama.
"We've got to find the head of the snake and cut that head off. That's how we are going to solve this problem and that's how we target those members of those cartels," he said.
Last month, Morris traveled to Sinaloa, Mexico, to learn more about the drug operation. He explained how state police risked their lives to show them firsthand the lengths the cartels are going to make drugs like methamphetamine.
"The gentlemen that helped us on that trip showed us and explained it. They literally put their lives on the line everyday just to be a state policeman. In the state of Sinaloa, they are dedicated to helping us," he said.
Morris explained how the CJNG Cartel, which is an offshoot of the Sinaloa cartel, works.
"That's where we had the CJNG Cartel moving it across the border into California...California into our region," he said.
Morris said with the support of the state police in Sinaloa, they will work to bring the people at the top of these organizations to justice.
"They are dedicated to helping us. Don't let anyone tell you others. Are there corrupt individuals in Mexico? Sure. But, there are those putting their life on the line everyday and have bounties on their head because they are fighting CJNG and the Sinaloa cartel," he said.
The operation lasted more than six months. It led to 74 pounds of meth plus cocaine, along with illegal guns and money. All the agencies told WAAY 31 they're not stopping and some of the men picked up face charges that could send them to prison for the rest of their lives.