Deputies intercept huge load of cocaine

Staff WriterSeptember 22, 2009 

— Sheriff's deputies seized 33 bricks of cocaine last week but have yet to arrest anyone for transporting it by tractor-trailer to a storage unit in Wake County.

Investigators found the truck driver, who was not charged. But they have not said who rented the storage unit where they found powder cocaine, which has an estimated street value of more than $3 million.

"The investigation is ongoing," Phyllis Stephens, a spokeswoman with the Wake County Sheriff's Office, said Monday.

The drug seizure, one of the largest in the history of the sheriff's office, resulted from an anonymous tip, court records show.

Driver not charged

The drugs -- compressed into 33 1-kilogram bricks encased in ceramic and hidden in cardboard boxes -- had been unloaded into a storage unit off U.S. 401 South from a 2000 Freightliner tractor-trailer with Indiana license plates, court records show.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Brian Keith McGinnis of Tennessee, was present during the seizure, but he told deputies he did not realize he was carrying a cache of illegal drugs. McGinnis was not charged.

"There was no probable cause to arrest him," Stephens said.

Unloaders jittery

A person who wanted to remain anonymous called the sheriff's office Thursday to report that a truck with an open bed trailer was parked near a storage unit at 10115 Division Drive at the Connor Business Park.

"The caller told the sheriff's office that they were present while the truck was being unloaded and the individuals appeared to be extremely nervous," according to a search warrant made public Monday.

Two sheriff's investigators went to the business park after the phone tip and talked with McGinnis. The tractor-trailer driver told deputies that he had picked up the load two days earlier in Dallas, Texas, according to the search warrant application.

McGinnis then provided deputies with the phone number of a contact person in Dallas, who agreed to allow investigators to search the truck and the storage unit. McGinnis also consented orally to the search, court records show.

A police dog helped locate the cocaine, court records show.

thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver .com or 919-829-4533

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