Telfair Cocaine Found in Rental Truck, Buried in Woods

7:23 PM, Sep 17, 2012   |    comments
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The Telfair County sheriff's office says they've seized 384 kilos of cocaine in a bust over the weekend. That's about 800 pounds.

Sheriff Johnny O. Smith posted details of the bust to his Facebook page over the weekend.

He wrote: "Why don't you ever get the big man???....WE DID...Me, some of my deputies,the D.E.A. and the (Oconee Regional Drug) task force have been up all night getting him."

He estimated the value of the drugs at $38 million.

He called it the largest seizure in the history of Telfair County and the largest in the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's Atlanta office in more than 15 years.

The GBI, the DEA and Sheriff Smith called a news conference on the bust for 9:30 this morning, then delayed it, then postponed it, saying the U.S. Attorney's office had asked them not to discuss the case.

Sue McKinney, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Michael Moore, said Moore is the only person authorized to speak on the case and he is out of town.

They're planning to release more details later today in a news conference at the offices of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Macon. Sheriff Johnny O. Smith is expected to take part.

The cocaine, about 800 pounds of it, was reportedly seized during an arrest this weekend in Lumber City.

Sheriff Johnny Smith said about half the cocaine was found in a rental truck, hidden under crates of tomatoes, and the other half was found buried in plastic barrels in the woods.

Smith explains that some of the cocaine was 8-12 inches under ground and that his team had to "poke around until we found them and then dig them up."

A Central Georgia law enforcement official says the arrests happened after a routine traffic stop that led officers to search the truck.

The sheriff's department says four people now face cocaine trafficking charges. Two of them are a husband and wife who live on Highway 341 north.

They are 41-year-old Bertin Rivera and Silvina Sanchez of Lumber City.

A neighbor in Lumber City today told us Rivera is a pine straw salesman.

David Livingston, who owns a convenience store in Lumber City says he frequently hunts in an adjacent property and says he never saw anything suspicious in the past. "I rarely ever saw any activity up there.  They were real low-profile, low-key people."

Also charged is his brother, 31-year-old David Rivera of Atlanta, and a Hazlehurst man, Natividad Salazar.

Jail records say that the two Riveras were born in Mexico.

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