A traffic stop Sunday on Interstate 80 in Henry County, Ill., netted an Illinois State Police record of approximately 16 kilograms of heroin.
Capt. Jeffrey Patterson said the seizure, which equates to about 35 pounds, broke the previous record by 1 1/2 pounds.
The stop resulted in the arrest of the driver, Thomas S. Brennen, 32, of Clementon, N.J., and his passenger, Robert D. Huckel, 30, of Bellmawr, N.J. Both were in custody Monday at the Henry County Jail in Cambridge.
Each is charged in Henry County Circuit Court with trafficking of a controlled substance which, on conviction, carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 30 years, Henry County State’s Attorney Terry Patton said.
Troopers stopped the blue Chevrolet pickup truck about 11 a.m. for speeding near Mile Marker 13 west of Geneseo.
The two men were eastbound, but Patterson said troopers don’t know their destination or starting point. He said an investigation is continuing to try to catch others involved.
The white heroin, which was contained in plastic bags, could have sold for up to $1.5 million, the captain said.
The heroin was found hidden in a spare tire in the rear of the vehicle, Patterson said.
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While troopers regularly seize narcotics during traffic stops on I-80 in Henry County, it is rare they find someone hauling heroin, Patterson said. He added that the drug has become more popular in recent years, which he finds surprising given the struggling economy and the drug’s price.
“It’s just now getting back to being big again in the Quad-Cities,” he said. “It’s expensive.”
Patton credited troopers with being well-trained in drug seizures and knowing the law and what is permissible during searches.
“Interstate 80 is a major drug pipeline, and Henry County has a lot of miles on it,” he said. Interstate 80 traverses about 35 miles through the county, while about 25 miles of Interstate 74 intersects it.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Patterson said of the troopers. “They do great police work.”