HENRY COUNTY — A Hancock County Sheriff’s K-9 found $200,000 worth of cocaine and hundreds of gummy bears laced with drugs during a traffic stop along Interstate 70 this week, officials said.
Manni, a K-9 officer with the Pro-Active Criminal Enforcement, or PACE, team — a multi-agency task force that patrols Interstate 70 from Marion County to the Ohio line — sniffed out 5.5 pounds of cocaine hidden inside a car Monday morning in Henry County.
The driver, 32-year-old Samuel Miranda of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was arrested and now faces a Level 2 felony count of dealing cocaine, records show.
Henry County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Goodwin stopped Miranda’s car along eastbound I-70 near mile marker 131 after the man changed lanes without using a turn signal, officials said.
Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Ernstes and his K-9 partner, Manni, came to the area to assist after Goodwin became suspicious that Miranda might be hiding something illegal in the car, officials said.
The deputies used Manni to search the car. Inside, they found several hundred dollars’ worth of gummy bears that had been doctored with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the high-inducing chemical in marijuana.
The deputies searched an opening under the gear shift lever and found two kilogram-sized packages that contained a substance that later tested positive for cocaine.
Miranda was arrested and booked into the Henry County Jail, where he remains on a $52,000 surety bond, officials said.
Prosecutors in Henry County filed criminal charges against Miranda on Wednesday.
He faces one Level 2 felony count of dealing cocaine and Class B misdemeanor of possession of marijuana.
He was expected to make his first appearance in Henry Circuit Court 1 on Wednesday, records show. An attorney had not yet been assigned to his case.
The PACE team was created in 2009 under former Hancock County Sheriff Bud Gray.
The team comprises officers from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Greenfield Police Department, Henry County Sheriff’s Department and Richmond Police Department to form a multi-agency task force to patrol I-70 looking for drug traffickers.
Since its inception in 2009, officers have confiscated more than 125 pounds of cocaine after traffic stops, in addition to hundreds of pounds of other illegal substances, officials said.