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Massive drug bust nets $10.2 million worth of cocaine, crystal meth
BUCKHORN, Mo. (Feb. 16, 2010) — An alert Waynesville police officer on routine patrol intercepted $10.2 million worth of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine in what police say is by far the largest drug bust in Pulaski County history.

According to Lt. Gary Brankel, one of the city police officers was conducting security checks on closed businesses shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning when he noticed several vehicles at the old Witmore Farms restaurant north of Exit 153. Investigation by police discovered 89 pounds of crystal meth with an estimated street value of $4.1 million and 99.6 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $6.1 million.

“I take my hat off to the officer,” Brankel said. “He followed his gut and did good police work.”

St. Robert police and Pulaski County deputies were rapidly called to assist. During the investigation, two people were detained for nearly an hour while police investigated their potential involvement. Brankel said police eventually determined that the two had no connection with the drugs and had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, driving back from attending a musical event at Evangel University in Springfield.

Brankel said he couldn’t confirm whether anyone had yet been arrested, but said the investigation continues.

Details of the drug bust haven’t yet been released due to the size of the drug bust and involvement by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, but Brankel said there’s no reason to believe the Witmore Farms property has become a dangerous drug zone.

“I think it was just a dark exit with a lack of activity,” Brankel said. “My guess is the 18-wheeler (truck involved in the incident) had been going up and down the interstate scouting it out, and found this location and decided to make it the place to do the exchange.”

When police identified the vehicle and called for a police dog to check it out, they discovered numerous suspicious items.

“We didn’t know at first what we had, but it was packaged like narcotics,” Brankel said.

Brankel opened up one of the packages and said he found more drugs than he’d ever seen before in his police career.

“It was just pounds and pounds of it,” Brankel said.

Federal officials concur on the size of the bust.

“We spoke with the DEA and asked if this is comparable to some of the things they see in St. Louis or other cities,” Brankel said. “They said they see quantities like this of cocaine, but nothing like this of methamphetamine.”

“This is going to have a big impact,” Brankel said. “Taking $10 million of drugs off the market is going to impact the whole central United States, and maybe keep some kids somewhere from getting this stuff.”

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