$3.5 million in cocaine found in axle of big rig - Tucson News Now

$3.5 million in cocaine found in axle of big rig

Investigators found 46 kilograms of cocaine worth about $3.5 million hidden in the axles of a big rig. (Source: WFMZ/CNN/Pocono Mountain Regional Police) Investigators found 46 kilograms of cocaine worth about $3.5 million hidden in the axles of a big rig. (Source: WFMZ/CNN/Pocono Mountain Regional Police)

BLAKESLEE, PA (WFMZ/CNN) - Rural Pennsylvania was the rare site of a massive drug bust. "It's crazy. It's sick. I can't believe it. I couldn't believe it. Not here, we're in the middle of nowhere,” said Jim Booterbaugh, a resident.

Booterbaugh says he knew something was going on near his home off Harry James Lane in Blakeslee in early February. “They are sitting across the street and they're watching with binoculars."

As it turns out "they" were Pocono Mountain Regional Police and members of the Scranton DEA Task Force. "The resident office in Scranton received national intelligence regarding the possibility of a shipment of large quantities of cocaine coming through our area," said Chief Chris Wagner of the  Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

It was near a warehouse that Pocono Mountain Regional Police and the Scranton DEA say they made their second largest cocaine bust in recent years. On Feb. 8, investigators found 46 kilograms of cocaine worth about $3.5 million hidden in the axles of a big rig.

"That amount of cocaine is obviously not a frequent occurrence," Wagner said. And neither was knowing the exact location of where the drugs would be hidden in the truck. "It saves us a lot of time and a lot of aggravation. Drug organizations go to great lengths to transport and conceal large quantities of controlled substances so they come up with some pretty clever ways to conceal it," Wagner said.

But not clever enough in this case.  Manuel Escarcega Jr. has been taken into custody and charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

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