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Law Enforcement:

$16.4 million cocaine seizure on I-15 sets Nevada record


Aida Ahmed

Authorities display bundles of cocaine that were seized from 10 duffel bags during a bust Aug. 10 on Interstate 15.

Updated Friday, Aug. 12, 2011 | 1:29 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Gaston Danjou

News Conference

Officials from the Southern Nevada Interdiction Task Force stopped a semi-trailer truck on Interstate 15 Wednesday morning carrying 452 pounds of cocaine, making it one of the largest cocaine seizures in Nevada history.

Members of the Southern Nevada Interdiction Task Force stopped the northbound semitruck about 12:30 a.m. at the Jean exit after noticing it was being driven erratically, Metro Police spokesman Lt. Laz Chavez said. The truck had a Quebec, Canada, license plate and was drifting in and out of travel lanes, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

Officials interviewed the driver, Gaston Danjou, outside the semitruck and he provided them with driver log information, but authorities noticed inconsistencies during their interview with him.

"While speaking with Danjou, I observed that he appeared to be more nervous than any normal person would be if they were being contacted by a police officer for a traffic violation," police wrote in an arrest report.

Danjou gave officials consent to search the truck, which yielded cocaine with a street value estimated at $16.4 million, officials said. A police dog detected the odor of narcotics and a detective found the cocaine in 10 duffel bags wrapped in several "bricks" in the truck's sleeper area.

Danjou was cooperative with officials during the process and was taken into custody.

He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center without bail in connection with possession of cocaine, trafficking cocaine and transporting a controlled substance.

Chavez said the truck had left the central valley of California and was en route to the Midwest.

"This is a perfect example of the collaborative efforts between the state and federal authorities to battle the drug trafficking that keeps coming into our state," Chavez said.

Law enforcement officials previously stated the cocaine bust was the largest in the state’s history, however, Metro Police spokesman Bill Cassell said there was at least one other drug seizure that topped this one. The largest seizure, more than 800 pounds, was recovered on a bust in 1993.

“It’s the largest cocaine seizure since the inception of the task force,” Cassell said of this week's bust.

The task force includes officers and agents from Metro, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Henderson Police, North Las Vegas Police, Boulder City Police and the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Chavez said the task force patrols the highway seven days a week.

"I-15 is definitely a corridor that is utilized very frequently by drug trafficking organizations," Chavez said. "I-15 takes you from the West Coast to the East Coast."

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