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Hands Free Smuggling

There’s a logistics problem drug dealers face when they get large enough to go interstate with their products. Our nation’s highways have become enforcement zones for police agencies of all sizes to look for narcotics trafficking. Some departments find they can make a significant part of their budget needs by interdicting drug smugglers and confiscating cars and cash. This focus means drug dealers have to find new, more creative ways to move drugs around.

A story out of Monett, Missouri gives us a look into just how tricky they can get.

The story starts in Oklahoma, where an alert sheriff’s deputy noticed one of the vehicles on a car carrier was from Los Angeles on its way to Monett, but was registered in Colorado. The Ford Explorer was searched and a false compartment was found. The compartment, built into the rear of the SUV, contained about 43 pounds of methamphetamine – over $2 million on the street.

Instead of making their move right there, the officers contacted the DEA and arranged for the vehicle to be delivered according to the manifest. By using DEA resources, the operation could move across state lines, which brings us into Missouri.

The Explorer was picked up by an Hispanic man and taken to house in Monett. A search by police found additional drugs, firearms and cash.

According to agents, the transport company would have no idea there were drugs concealed in the vehicle. Their role is simply to take a car or truck from one location to another. Apparently, the cost of doing so is less for drug dealers than trying to drive a load themselves – and it’s less risky. Except in this case, where some good police work ended up getting six arrested.

Monett seems like an odd destination, but authorities say the small town actually is less risky for drug dealers. The drugs can be stored in rural areas where privacy isn’t a problem and then transported to a major city for sale and distribution.

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