Sioux Falls, SD
There have been a lot of meth busts in Sioux Falls recently but police say the latest is the largest they have ever seen.
Nine pounds of meth was seized Wednesday afternoon. It has a street value of up to a half million dollars.
Police say they were led to the drugs when one of the dealers left tens of thousands of dollars under a hotel mattress.
Police were called to a hotel in southwest Sioux Falls Wednesday morning after 42-year-old Regina Johnson wanted to be let back into the room she had checked out of earlier in the week. When police got into the room, they found $87,000 in cash under a mattress.
After finding the cash, police got Johnson's information which led them to stop the SUV she was riding in with 42-year-old Robert Jackson.
In the back they found camouflage tubes. Inside the pipes was nine pounds of meth wrapped in black tape in one pound bricks. They also found syringes and other drug paraphernalia.
"It's pretty obvious they were likely setting up shop in the hotel to sell drugs," Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel said Thursday.
The latest bust is so large, even one of the suspects who was arrested can't believe it.
When prosecutors said in court on Thursday that investigators had found nine pounds of methamphetamine Johnson, who faces several drug charges in the case, let out a gasp and said 'What! No Way!'
Police also found more meth and more cash at Johnson's home in northeast Sioux Falls. There they also arrested her 19-year-old son Austin Dalstead.
Barthel believes the bust has taken a major supplier off the streets, but he doesn't believe the drugs were made here.
"Odds are this probably came from the southwest part of the country or more likely from Mexico where they are able to produce and manufacture large quantities undetected like that," Barthel said.
Jackson has been in trouble for making meth before. In the fall of 2001, he was arrested for having a meth lab in a storage unit near Harrisburg. He was convicted of possessing the drug.
Now, police hope Jackson's latest arrest and the seizure of so much meth sends a message to other buyers and sellers in the area.
"Anytime we can make an arrest like this I think it sends a clear message to those who either want to deal it or use it that the odds are against you,” Barthel said.
Police say it’s common for dealers who get a large shipment of drugs like this to sell it out of a hotel room because they don't want to the extra traffic drawing attention to their home.