Jackson County Drug Task Force

  1. July 21, 2023
    Drug_Task_Force_Awards_590 copyPeers Recognized Drug Task Force's Award-Winning Efforts
    The Jackson County Drug Task Force is headquartered in an undisclosed location, and its detectives work undercover. Given the secrey in which the Task Force operates, it essentially must shun reconition. But the Tas Force's law enforcement has recognized its effort with two recent awards. » TASK FORCE AWARDS

“If we come into your neighborhood and you know we are there, doing our work, then we’ve failed. So, we’re not well known in the community as a whole. We shouldn’t be because a lot of what we do is undercover. But in the last six or seven years, we’ve gotten to be very well known within the drug community. When we come in to interrogate a dealer and say, ‘How are you doing? I am with the Jackson County Drug Task Force,’ I swear they sit there, lower their head and just go, ‘Oh, crap.’ They know who we are, and they know we’ve got them.” 

Dan Cummings, Jackson County Drug Task Force Officer-In-Charge

Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year

"EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE" Dan Cummings is proud of the work the Jackson County Drug Task Force has done during his tenure as the Officer-In-Charge, but as a former undercover officer he prefers staying out of camera range. The Task Force has also earned accolades from its law enforcement peers. The Missouri Narcotic Officers Association has named the Jackson County Drug Task Force the Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year four times in the last eight years.  

Task Force Trying To Stay Ahead Of Drug Cartels Focused On Doing Business In Jackson County

A lot has changed since the Jackson County Drug Task Force was first formed in the mid-1980s. 

Nearly all 21st Century drug traffickers use cell phones, and some even arrange deals via Facebook. Before those deals are finalized, “buyers” will often text photos of their cash to confirm they have the necessary funds to purchase the methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or marijuana.

All these digital “conversations” save the Task Force’s undercover detectives time writing reports. They can use screen-captures.

The Cartels Are Here

But the sophistication level of today’s traffickers goes far beyond using modern communications. Most illicit drugs being bought and sold in Jackson County originated with what the FBI calls a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO).

“That’s just a big fancy way of saying Mexican cartels bringing their drugs across the border,” points out Dan Cummings, Officer-In-Charge of the Jackson County Drug Task Force. “If you follow the trail of the drugs we’re confiscating, you are going to cross paths with operatives for one of these cartels doing business in Jackson County—not just in Kansas City, but in Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Independence.

“They are here. They control the drug trafficking in this area.”

Concentrating On Customer Satisfaction

When Cummings says “doing business” that’s exactly what he means.

The criminals running these cartels think of themselves as being CEOs—entrepreneurs, captains of industry, innovators. They manage their cash flow, supply lines, distribution centers and employees. And they’re real sticklers about punctuality. One Task Force undercover detective recently was given a stern “time-is-money” lecture when he arrived at 3:02 for a 3 o’clock drug buy.

The cartels are also concerned about quality control and customer service.

“After a buy, we’ll get follow-up calls from someone higher up in the organization,” says Cummings. “They’ll want to know if we’re satisfied with how the deal went down. Now they’re wanting to see if the front-line dealer who sold us the stuff sold as much as he told them he did and for how much money. They’re checking up on him.

“But they are genuinely concerned about us being happy with our purchase. They want our repeat business. It really is like getting a call from customer service.”

Armed_DangerousAmong the weapons the Jackson County Drug Task Force has confiscated this spring include a flame thrower, fully automatic pistols and an arsenal of 46 long rifles found in one home.

Still An Extremely Violent “Business”

Al Capone, of course, routinely referred to himself as a being “just a businessman.” The notorious Chicago gangster ordered the infamous 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and countless other murders.

The transnational organized criminals trafficking drugs in Jackson County 90 years later are no less ruthless. 
A cartel CEO enforces his personnel rules with violence—extreme violence. Those rules include not using drugs, operating no “side businesses,” keeping customers satisfied, staying debt free and remaining silent if arrested. (As an extra incentive, a cartel employee working in the United States realizes breaking the rules might cost the lives of any family members back in Mexico.)

“If you are in a cartel, they might drug test you,” Cummings says. “If you test positive and you are ‘fired,’ your replacement is going to be there, taking your phone, taking your car keys, taking you out of there and taking over your business immediately. The cartel doesn’t miss a beat.”

Local Meth Labs Shut Down

The emergence of the cartels has changed the way the Jackson County Drug Task Force goes about conducting its business.

Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the Task Force and other local law enforcement agencies concentrated on shutting down meth labs operating inside the county. In a 1997 article, The New York Times described a typical lab in Blue Springs as a “mom-and-pop operation,” set up to support mom and pop’s own addictions—with whatever they didn’t ingest themselves then being sold.

At the peak of the meth lab crisis in the county, the Task Force might help shut down about 140 labs per year. That number is now down to less than 10.

With the local supply all but eliminated, the cartels have stepped in to continue feeding Jackson County’s meth addiction.

“Methamphetamine is still our No. 1 problem,” stresses Cummings. “We now just have a new supply line meeting the demand.”

For the Task Force, following the supply line across county lines, into other states and beyond national borders has required partnering with federal agencies on more and more in-depth investigations that might take multiple months or even years to unfold.

“Getting The Head Of The Snake”

The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) goal is to “get the head of the snake,” according to Cummings. That starts with chasing the tail, luring smaller-time dealers into convert buys and working your way up.

Cummings and his detectives are constantly “vetting candidates” among these low-level dealers, seeking out those who don’t have the close family connections south of the border and, therefore, might be more cooperative.  

The result has been multiple cases involving the Task Force, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Kansas City Police Department—in conjunction with the FBI and DEA—being turned over to U.S. Attorneys for federal prosecution. For example, a federal grand jury in Kansas City indicted 12 residents from the KC and St. Louis areas last December for their roles in an $8.5 million conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine over a two-year period.

One Jackson County Drug Task Force detective serves as a liaison to the FBI; meanwhile, a DEA agent has been assigned to the Task Force’s office—an undisclosed location. (Even the building is undercover.)

“We had a situation when we wanted to indict 25 people all at once up at the federal courthouse,” Cumming says. “The federal courthouse in Kansas City can really only handle about 25 indictments in a given day, and we tried to indict 25 in one shot. We overwhelmed the federal system here in Kansas City.”

COMBAT Funding

COMBAT has funded the Jackson County Drug Task Force since voters first approved the Community Backed Anti-Drug/Anti-Crime/Anti-Violence Tax in 1989. That steady funding source keeps the Task Force fully equipped and provides the “buy money” necessary to lure dealers into the detectives’ undercover operations.

Those detectives’ sole focus is on the Task Force’s cases, so they need not worry about being pulled off that duty to work on other cases.

“Without the COMBAT funding there’d be no Task Force and each police department in Jackson County would be trying the best it can with the resources they’ve got,” Cummings says.

Cummings, representing the Independence Police Department, was among the first detectives assigned to the Jackson County Drug Task Force in the mid-1980s. In 1989 he joined the Independence PD’s first-ever Drug Unit, with various stints to follow on the Task Force in the 1990s and 2000s as a detective, then a sergeant.

He was all set to settle into his retirement after 30 years carrying an Independence Police badge, when he was convinced to serve on the Task Force again in 2013 as the OIC—placed in that position as a commissioned captain for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Meth Confiscated By The Drug Task ForceMethamphetamine the Task Force confiscated in one search earlier this spring

Preventing “A First Taste”

In his now 38 years of law enforcement experience—25 of the 38 dedicated almost entirely to drug-law enforcement—Cummings is more convinced than ever “there will always be some demand and abuse of drugs.” Yet he remains fervent about his work.

 He asks, “Should we just give up fighting and trying to make drugs as limited as possible? I don’t think so.”

Cummings has only sympathy for most drug addicts—he’d rather they be given treatment than be jailed—and he believes the work the Task Force does is crucial to “preventing more addicts.”

“Last year we recovered over $16 million worth of drugs—methamphetamine being the majority of it,” he says. “We’ve had years when we’ve confiscated 150 to 200 pounds of meth. There’s 455 grams per pound and a dose of meth is just a quarter of gram. Let’s say in that 150 pounds of meth we got off the streets, there’s the quarter of a gram that might have been your daughter’s first taste of methamphetamine. What price do you put on that, when it is your daughter?

“I can’t give you a statistic for it, but I can guarantee we prevent some people—kids—from having an opportunity to try these drugs for the first time.”

  1. July 21, 2023
    Drug_Task_Force_Awards_590 copyPeers Recognized Drug Task Force's Award-Winning Efforts
    The Jackson County Drug Task Force is headquartered in an undisclosed location, and its detectives work undercover. Given the secrey in which the Task Force operates, it essentially must shun reconition. But the Tas Force's law enforcement has recognized its effort with two recent awards. » TASK FORCE AWARDS

  2. Fentanyl-OD_Arrest_250January 30, 2023
    Jackon County Task Force Spearheads OD-Related Investigation
    An investigation the Jackson County Drug Task Force spearheaded has led to multiple federal charges against a Kansas City man linked to at least three fatal fentanyl overdoses in 2022. Firearms, numerous pills containing fentanyl and hundreds of thousands of dollars seized.

  3. June 22, 2022
    Fentanyl_Seized_250Investigation Breaks Up Major Cartel Trafficking Operation
    Enough Fentanyl Seized For Potentially Millions Of Lethal Doses
    An investigation that the Jackson County Drug Task Force and federal Homeland Security officials initiated more two years ago has culminated in 39 defendants being indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute more than 335 kilograms (738½ pounds) of methamphetamine and 22 kilograms (48½ pounds) of heroin. Especially alarming was the amount of fentanyl also seized: 10.4 kilograms (22.9 pounds), enough for millions—literally millions—of potentially lethal doses.”

  4. March 8, 2022
    149% Increase In Overdose Deaths Linked To Fentanyl
    250_OverdosesJust a speck of fentanyl—seven hundred thousandths of an ounce (0.00007)—can kill a person, but drug dealers are using the synthetic opioid more and more to manufacture counterfeit pills or to mix it with other drugs (like a fentanyl-meth combo being distributed in baggies with a "red lips" logo). They’re recklessly doing this to increase their profits, with a wanton disregard for the fact fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the Kansas City metro have increased 149%.

  5. April 10, 2021
    250_Law_Enforcement_Unit_of_the_YearDrug Task Force Honored By Peers
    The Jackson County Drug Task Force has earned high praise from its peers in law enforcement yet again. During the organization’s annual conference, the Missouri Narcotic Officers Association (MNOA) named the task force the “Law Enforcement Unit of the Year” for the fifth time in the last 10 years. The Jackson County Drug Task Force, comprised of detectives from 12 local police departments and the Sheriff’s Office, often collaborates with federal authorities on cases involving international drug trafficking cartels seeking to sell methamphetamine, heroin and other dangerous drugs in our community.
    » MORE

  6. October 13, 2021
    One_Pill_Can_Kill_Slide_250Counterfeit Pills—‘Widely Available’ & ‘More Lethal’
    Prescription pills not obtained from a licensed pharmacy are not only illegal to possess, but when taken can also be dangerous. There’s a good chance those pills might be fakes with potentially fatal side effects. According to the DEA, counterfeit pills are “widely available” and “more lethal than ever before.” Seizures of phony pills containing fentanyl have increased 420% since 2019. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be a deadly dose.
    » MORE

  7. September 24, 2020
    Drug Task Force Seizes 3,000 Pills Laced With Fentanyl
    Just A Speck Of Fentanyl Can Kill YouJust a two milligram dose of fentanyl can be lethal. That’s why the Jackson County Drug Task Force’s seizure of 3,000 pills stamped as OxyContin but laced with fentanyl almost certainly saved lives—and sounded alarms. As COMBAT Director Vince Ortega points out, swallowing a tablet with fentanyl in it “could be every bit as deadly as biting down on a cyanide capsule.” While morphine is 1½ times stronger than oxycodone, the semi-synthetic opioid in OxyContin, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
    » MORE

  8. February 24, 2020
    Drug Task Record-Setting $30.4 Million In Seizures
    Drug Task Force Record-Setting YearThe Jackson County Drug Task Force had never before seized more than $20 million in illegal substances in a single year. But the Task Force discovered nearly $12½ million worth of methamphetamine during a single search last fall as that record-setting day led to what would be a record-setting year in 2019—with $30.4 million in illegal substances confiscated or purchased in “controlled buys.” COMBAT Director Vince Ortega emphasizes most of those drugs were seized before they could be distributed on the streets, “which is when we would see the surge in violence associated with drug trafficking.” Therefore, he says the COMBAT-funded Drug Task Force is “very much an anti-violence task force too.” 
    » MORE

  9. December 13, 2019
    County Drug Task Force 'Striking' At Criminals Crossing State Lines State Line Arrest
    The COMBAT-funded Jackson County Drug Task Force has joined a federally-formed Strike Force that will pursue drug traffickers and violent criminals who crisscross Greater Kansas City’s state line. “Crime does not stop at the state line and neither does the Strike Force,” said Stephen McAllister, the U.S. Attorney for  Kansas. For years the Jackson County Task Force has been seizing drugs that can be traced to Mexican cartels, including 144 pounds of methamphetamine during one recent search. These international cases have had the Task Force working with federal authorities on a regular basis, making the Task Force a logical fit for this initiative targeting “drug trafficking organizations that are making the streets of metro Kansas City less safe and more violent.” 
    » MORE

  10. October 18, 2019
    Equivalent Of More Than 250,000 'Doses' (144lbs.) Of Meth Seized
    Meth Packages Being Pulled From Inside TireThe COMBAT-Funded Jackson County Drug Task Force seized 144 pounds of methamphetamine during a recent search of a Kansas City property. The drugs, valued at more than $12 million, were hidden in metal containers that were sealed inside four tires. Task Force Officer-In-Charge Dan Cummings believes the meth—the largest amount the Task Force has ever recovered at one time—was probably within a day of being distributed for sale throughout the metropolitan area. "I don't think anyone was going to sit on that much meth for very long," he said.
    » MORE

  11. July 19, 2019
    Case Illustrates Cartel Activity In Jackson County & Beyond
    Arrests Made In Jackosn County and BeyondWhat started off as a seemingly simple casea Kansas City, Kan., undercover police officer asking the Jackson County Drug Task Force with assistance when a drug deal made in Kansas was to be completed in Missouriturns into a months-long investigation involving multiple federal and local agencies. When it was completed, multiple indictments were made as the case illustrated the reach of Mexican cartels into Jackson County and beyond.
    » MORE

  12. June 11, 2019
    'Demand' For Meth Remains High In Jackson County
    Meth Still Number One ProblemEach year throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, the Jackson County Drug Task Force and other law enforcement agencies would shut down dozens of meth labs—sometimes more than 100 labs in a single year. With these local supply lines being severed, Mexican cartels have stepped in to fill the void and meet the ongoing “demand” for methamphetamine. The Task Force is striving daily to stop these cartels from feeding Jackson County’s meth addiction—still the county’s No. 1 drug problem.
    » MORE

  13. June 4, 2019
    Jackson County Drug Task Force Changes With The Times
    Drug_Task_Force_REDUCEDThe Jackson County Drug Task Force is now routinely engaged in joint investigations with federal authorities as they pursue drug supply lines across city limits and county lines, as well as state and international borders. Their objective is to "get the head of the snake," rather than just chasing the tail. With several of their cases having roots that trace back to Mexican cartels, the Task Force confiscated more than $16 million in illegal drugs last year.
    » MORE


Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 392
Blue Springs, MO 64103


(816) 655-3784

Jackson County Drug Task Force PatchJoining Forces

Not every police department has the resources necessary to effectively fight drug-related crimes—crimes that know no boundaries, crisscrossing city limits, county lines and state borders. 

The Jackson County Drug Task Force was formed in the mid-1980s to bring together detectives from the county’s various police departments and Sheriff’s Office to pursue drug dealers across these legal jurisdictions in a coordinated, concentrated and collaborative fashion. Since being approved in 1989, COMBAT has funded the Task Force’s operations.

Those operations have expanded dramatically in the last decade—from mostly local investigations to the Task Force’s standard practice today of joining with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administrator to develop cases that result in federal prosecutions.

This requires the Task Force to address drug crime in our neighborhoods, while also helping federal authorities try to dismantle cartels with tentacles that stretch across multiple stands and into other countries.

Between 2011 and 2018, the Task Force took part in investigations that led to 1,238 federal prosecutors, compared to 568 state cases.

Drug Task Force Agencies

Detectives and other personnel assigned to the Task Force are from these Jackson County law enforcement agencies:

The chiefs from these various police departments and the Jackson County Sheriff serve as the Task Force’s Executive Team.

The Task Force’s work was been recognized repeatedly by its peers:

  • 2020 Missouri Narcotic Officers Association Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year
  • 2017 Missouri Narcotic Officers Association Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year

  • 2017 Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Outstanding Cooperative Effort

  • 2016 Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Outstanding Cooperative Effort

  • 2015 Missouri Narcotic Officers Association Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year

  • 2014 Missouri Narcotic Officers Association Law Enforcement Officer Of The Year: Jackson County Drug Task Force Officer-In-Charge Dan Cummings

  • 2014 Missouri Narcotic Officers Association Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year

  • 2013 Midwest Gang Investigators Association Investigation Of The Year Award: Jackson County Drug Task Force “Operation Diamond Posse” 2009-2012

  • 2011 Missouri Narcotic Officers Association Law Enforcement Unit Of The Year

For some drug dealers dealing drugs is more than a business.

It's almost a religion.

The Jackson County Drug Task Force has found shrines to so-called narco saints inside drug houses. Some dealers with ties to the Mexican cartels pray for these saints to aid them in their unholy activities.

"They pray that their deals go down with no trouble," says Task Force Officer-In-Charge Dan Cummings. (He keeps the idol shown here in his office as a souvenir.)

"For a drug dealer," Cummings continues, "having your prayers answered means nobody getting killed and not getting arrested."