WREG rides along with West Tennessee Violent Crime and Drug Task Force

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — WREG got a first-hand look at what's being done to get drugs off the roads in the Mid-South.

In late September agents with the West Tennessee Violent Crime and Drug Task Force recovered 44 pounds of cocaine from a vehicle on Interstate 40 just outside Shelby County in Fayette County.

On Thursday WREG rode along with an agent as he patrolled the greater Memphis area.

"The drugs and the money go up and down this highway every day," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Darryl Harrison.

They look with a trained eye for someone who might be breaking the law.

"We stop them we try to be polite, tell them what we’re doing why we stopped them. Any traffic violation. The window tint, a speeding violation, improper lane change," he explained.

That stop could lead to a much bigger bust.

The 44 pounds of cocaine agents recently discovered was because of a traffic stop. Three people were arrested.

"Everything is hot right now, Fentanyl, you got the heroin, the marijuana," explained Harrison.

With more than 30 years in law enforcement Harrison has seen plenty of changes, especially as the nation battles the opioid epidemic.

"Fentanyl is the deadliest stuff out there. It is deadly," explained Harrison.

The goal is to get these dangerous drugs off our streets here in the Mid-South and stop them from getting to other parts of the country.

But Harrison says the task force, made up of several agencies in west Tennessee discovers a whole lot of things out on the busy roads.

“We get murderers, drugs, everything out here.”

Harrison says he makes anywhere from 10 to 12 stops a day, everything always with probable cause.

Reasons an officer might be suspicious of a driver include the driver and passengers story might not match, they don’t know each others names or they aren’t clear as to where they’re going.

We were with Harrison when he made one stop and helped out with a few  too.

In one case a big rig was pulled over because officers say the driver was speeding. Harrison was called in to help out bringing his scope in to search a refrigeration unit where sometimes drugs can be hidden.

Nothing was found in the case so the driver checked out.

The driver gave his consent to let agents search the 18 wheeler he said was hauling sand to Texas.

If a driver doesn’t give consent and the officer is seeing some red flags then there are other ways an officer can search.

"If they say no and I have a narcotic dog available I’ll have one of the guys come up and work their dog on the car. If the dog alert and the odor of narcotics is coming from the car we will search.”

Which is why the dogs need to stay sharp.

We were there as several dogs practiced their skills.

"We always have at least one dog working every shift.  They’re usually 30 seconds, a minute away if you need it and there are a lot of hidden compartments that drug carriers use and sometimes a dog is the only way to find it," explained Special Agent in Charge Buddy Bell.

It is through this training and the constant patrolling of the interstates that Harrison says help fight crime we see in our cities.

Because many shootings and homicides have a common denominator, which is drugs.