A routine holiday safety inspection at an I-80 state weigh station turned into a drug bust that netted 24 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $2.5 million.
Officer Richard Bassett of the Iowa DOT’s motor vehicle division found the suitcase containing the cocaine during the inspection Sunday near Waukee. Bassett says the suitcase was in a semi trailer carrying pallets of tomato puree. He found the suitcase between the pallets.
Clues inside the trailer tipped him off. He saw footprints on top of the load, which indicated something wasn’t right and he says the drivers were acting funny. Bassett says he picked out this particular semi because of its Canadian license plates. Bassett says it was a random check, but officers had been given a warning of Canadian drivers bringing in and taking out drugs from the US, so Bassett decided to do more checks on Canadian drivers during the holiday.
Bassett has been an enforcement officer for 17 years and while he’s found “recreational drugs” used by drivers to stay awake, he’s never made this big a find. Bassett will retire in December and he says this is a great way to cap off his career. “It’s a good feeling, when you can take that much elicit drugs off the streets,” he told reporters during a news conference at the weight station where the discovery was made.
The two drivers of the truck are from Ontario, Canada and are being held on state charges of possession of a controlled substance and failure to have a drug tax stamp. Bassett says they’ll also face federal charges. Bassett says the semi was not confiscated as an investigation determined the company that owned the truck did not know about the drugs.