KENNETT, MO (KAIT) – A Texas woman was arrested in Region 8 this week on charges she was transporting drugs. Authorities with the Pemiscot County Sheriff's Office indicated Shontai Charity was found with 91 pounds of marijuana in her vehicle near Wardell, located between Kennett and Portageville.
Thursday, members of the Bootheel Drug Task Force discussed the problem with Region 8 News, which appears to be happening more often near Interstate 55 and U.S. Highway 412 into Kennett.
Tim Trowbridge, who has been in the Bootheel Drug Task Force for 11 years, said the problem has ramped up in the last five years.
"The relationship between our local task force, the DEA and the FBI and ATF, we have a much better working relationship. Day to day, I'll talk with agents with the DEA and the FBI up in Cape Girardeau and they'll help us out," said Trowbridge.
Trowbridge said the Missouri State Highway Patrol runs drug interdiction teams on Interstate 55. He said those officers are able to take several thousands of pounds of drugs off the streets; however, all of the drugs cannot be discovered.
"You never know what you're going to get into. Sometimes you may think that this guy may be a low level dealer. You bring them in, he knows so and so and he knows so and so who is getting drugs from the border. So you never know day to day what you're going to run into or where your case is going to lead," said Trowbridge. "A Kennett officer, his jurisdiction is Kennett, his main focus may be Kennett, but if you arrest a guy that's got 20 pounds of marijuana in Kennett, obviously there are people that are coming from Malden, from Paragould and Memphis or Blytheville to come get that marijuana."
Trowbridge said while Interstate 55 is a hot spot to find drugs, some of which come from Mexico, Highway 412 is another problem area.
"Once they get a load, they'll make the first stop to pick up some more drugs. They'll place it on the load or hide it within the load," said Trowbridge. "We've made stops ourselves, even on 412. It seems like the drug traffic even on 412 has picked for us coming through town."
Trowbridge said more truckers who run drugs are using Highway 412 because there are no weigh stations. It's also a route truckers use coming from Texas through Little Rock into Kennett.
"You would be surprised the amounts of drugs and people that flow through our community on a day to day basis," said Trowbridge. "I don't think people realize that in our area, even though it's rural, that we still see big time drugs come through our towns. Sometimes it's just in transport, it doesn't actually stop here. Sometimes it does."
Trowbridge said officers have discovered marijuana and powdered cocaine along Highway 412.
"The majority of our cases, especially drug task force, we call them proactive investigations. The case wouldn't be made unless we went to look for them," said Trowbridge. "Your normal every day person may not think to call the police department because they don't want to bother them or know that they're really busy. Sometimes it's that small piece of information or something that they see, that could lead to a bigger case. Maybe even sometimes an ongoing case."
Trowbridge said statistics are available to provide more evidence of the drug problem in southeast Missouri, however they were not immediately provided as of this report.