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Trooper makes large drug bust



Published: Wed, August 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



MERCER, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania State Trooper is credited with the seizure of cocaine with a street value of approximately $500,000.

Trooper Richard Houk was patrolling Interstate 80 in Pine Township, Mercer County, when he spotted a speeding eastbound minivan around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Houk, who has been credited with numerous drug busts on the interstate and won statewide recognition last year for his success, stopped the vehicle for speeding. He said he was immediately suspicious.

In a statement released Tuesday to the press, Houk said he noticed several actions by the two men in the car that are indicative of narcotics trafficking. He didn't reveal what those actions were.

Houk said he did a quick scan of the vehicle and thought he detected a hidden compartment beneath the rear of the minivan. He called for a state police canine unit to come to the scene and the dog "hit" on that area of the vehicle.

Houk said he then secured a search warrant and found the electronically controlled compartment, which contained 44 pounds of suspected cocaine, worth about $500,000 on the street.

The case and the two men, both from California, have been turned over to federal authorities. The men were taken to Allegheny County Jail to await a court appearance.

The vehicle was seized by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.




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