Louisville's drug cartel connections examined


by Renee Murphy


Posted on February 25, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 25 at 8:03 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- They are notoriously dangerous and known as ruthless killers. We've heard about Mexican drug cartels and WHAS11 decided take a look at how Louisville fits into their illegal operation.

“There are people here either arrested or identified that are in the Louisville area that have ties to the cartels or other drug organizations we are seeing an increase in that,” Lt. JT Duncan said.

A case from November in Louisville is a prime example of how close the cartel is.  Four people were arrested in a quiet Okolona neighborhood and police say they were connected to a Mexican Drug Cartel.  2,400 pounds of marijuana were seized alone worth $2.6 million on the street.  Police also found a million dollars in cash; some stashed in Dora the Explorer shoe boxes.

“What they were doing was bringing the drugs up from Mexico from whatever route they were taking Louisville is a jump off point,” Lt. Rich Pearson said.

And this isn't the only case recently.  A federal investigation named Michael McCarthy of Louisville as a major drug dealer who has now been charged.  He was arrested when millions of dollars in cash was seized by the DEA in a trailer that was carrying a dragster race car.  McCarthy's organization is accused of bringing in 50 kilos of cocaine a month into Louisville.  He testified in December against two men who were allegedly supplying cartel cocaine to this area.

“He is not your normal alleged drug trafficker. Michael is real nice, he's a young man he's soft spoken he is handsome; good family man,” Frank Mascagni, McCarthy’s attorney said.

“The Mexican drug cartels whether it’s the Zetas (or another cartel) control the drug trafficking that comes across the Mexican border and eventually some of those drugs are going to end up here in Louisville,” Lt. Duncan said.

And police say the cartel connection to this area could be on the rise.  They already deal in cocaine and marijuana but with heroin use increasing, the cartels reach into Kentuckiana could be even more prominent.

“The cartels, the Mexican drug trafficking organizations, have heroin.  They've had heroin there since the 50’s or the 60’s and that market is now opening back up the demand is back there so they are going to supply that demand,” Lt. Duncan said.

There are 18 known cartels that control the drug trade from Mexico. Louisville police say this area isn't seeing the violence that's happening in border states right now, but that is a concern

“If it can happen there, it can happen here,” Lt. Duncan said.