Street crimes task force intercepts 40 pounds of pot in mail

Street crimes task force intercepts 40 pounds of pot in mail

URBANA — Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force detectives feel like they made some real headway in the past week, intercepting more than 40 pounds of high-grade cannabis intended for recipients in Champaign County.

Although they have the valuable product in hand, what they don't always have is the sender or the addressee.

In what task force officer Matt Quinley, an Urbana police detective, called a "good week," police seized cannabis and related products in four different transactions.

Only two intended recipients have been identified, and they are expected to appear in court early next month, Quinley said.

"The Street Crimes Unit knows there is a large amount of cannabis and narcotics being shipped through the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx, so we routinely spot-check packages and work with security officers from the private carriers and the postal inspectors," he said.

On May 16 and 17, working cooperatively with security agents from UPS, detectives hit a bit of a mother lode.

"We intercepted two packages with 11 pounds of high-grade marijuana totaling 22 pounds. The next day, we intercepted a third package with 11 pounds of cannabis and 2 pounds of 'moon rocks,'" he said.

A "moon rock," Quinley said, is a high-quality bud of cannabis soaked in cannabis oil. That boosts the content of THC, the active ingredient that brings on the euphoric feeling, and the price.

"They dry it, and when people smoke it, they get a feeling of numbness in their face. You can touch your eye and not feel it," said the seasoned investigator. "For those two days, we ended up with 35 pounds."

He said most bulk shipments of cannabis come from the West Coast: California, Oregon, Washington. Someone buying 10 pounds or more can expect to pay $1,800 to $2,000 a pound, he said.

But those willing to take the risk can profit substantially by reselling that for $3,000 to $3,500 a pound, he opined.

And for those trading in the THC-soaked moon rocks, expect to pay $2,500 to $3,000 a pound, he said.

Quinley said he attended a continuing-education class in which an instructor said one hit — a single inhale — of today's weed is about equal in effect to an entire joint that baby boomers smoked in the 1980s.

Not wanting to reveal investigatory secrets, Quinly explained that there is a lot of cooperation between authorities in the source states with those in intended locations.

While it's bold to send drugs through the mail or via commercial carrier, Quinley said the use of fake names and fake addresses makes the cases "really hard to win and prove up."

In addition to the 35 pounds that task force members seized last week, on Tuesday, they intercepted another package sent from California to Champaign.

It was identified as a quarter-pound of "cannabis wax," yet another product that savvy manufacturers have come up with to try to use all the waste from the cannabis plant.

Simplified, the wax in its finished form is "like a sticky caramel," Quinley said, and has a higher concentration of THC.

"You take a paper clip and apply a dab to a heat source like an electronic cigarette. It takes a little bit, and you're off," he said.

Working with U.S. postal inspectors, Quinley said authorities opened the package, identified the contents, resealed it, then delivered it to the address on the label.

In addition to their wax, the couple living there were treated to a court-authorized search of their home.

Quinley said police found another couple ounces of cannabis wax, about 7 pounds of cannabis, approximately 100 pills of Ecstasy and a large amount of cash.

They were issued notices to appear in court next month. Task force reports of the inventory and the mechanics of the delivery will be forwarded to the state's attorney's office for the appropriate criminal charges.

This month's action is the kind of proactive work that Quinley said he loves..

"It's one thing to go buy drugs from somebody you know. These are the true mystery cases," he said. "We do as many as we can but gun violence intervenes."

"It was a good week.".

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