DECATUR —Decatur police street crimes detectives hit the jackpot Thursday morning when they found a 42-year-old man transporting three suitcases containing $1 million worth of cocaine on a Greyhound bus, bound for Chicago from Yuma, Ariz.
“It is the biggest narcotics bust ever in Macon County,” said State’s Attorney Jay Scott, who has been working as a prosecutor in the county for 25 years.
After Enrique Vaughan-Montano admitted to police that the three suitcases containing 18.3 pounds of cocaine belonged to him, he was booked into the Macon County Jail where he is being held on $2.5 million bond.
Detectives Chad Larner and Jason Hesse were at the Pilot Travel Center on the city’s northeast edge when the bus pulled in for a rest stop.
Larner engaged bus passenger Vaughan-Montana in a conversation in English, in which he revealed that he was traveling with three pieces of luggage, said an arrest affidavit by Larner.
“During the encounter, numerous indicators of criminal activity were observed pertaining to Vaughan-Montana,” Larner wrote in his statement.
Larner obtained verbal consent to search the luggage in English and Spanish, and the detectives began their search.
They noticed that the inner lining of the luggage was hand-stitched, inconsistent with the stitching of the suitcase manufacturer. Larner then obtained consent from Vaughan-Montana, whose tags were on the luggage, to cut through the lining.
The detectives discovered 11 packages concealed in the lining of the three suitcases. Hesse administered a field test, which registered positive for cocaine. The weight of the packages was determined to be 8.3 kilograms, or 18.3 pounds.
Deputy Police Chief David Dickerson, head of criminal investigations, said this seizure, one of many by detectives who work at the bus rest stop and on the nearby interstate, will have an impact.
“We have to believe that when you make a seizure of this magnitude, even though the illegal narcotics were destined for Chicago, that a portion of it may have very well ended up back on the streets of Decatur eventually,” Dickerson said. “If making this seizure will result in one less drug turf-related shooting in our community, in the Chicago area or in another state, then we feel that it is worth our time in conducting these interdiction efforts.”
After the cocaine was discovered, Decatur police contacted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Springfield office, which dispatched an agent to police headquarters to assist in the investigation.
The suspect said an unknown male in Yuma gave him the three pieces of luggage, with a promise that he would be paid $1,000 if he delivered them to an unknown male in Chicago. He said he agreed to the deal, and did not see any contraband in the suitcases.
“Vaughan-Montana stated the luggage seemed heavier than normal to him, but believed the weight was from the small roller wheels and handle on the luggage,” the affidavit said.
The suspect told officers he resides in Mexico, but works in the United States.
Vaughan-Montana is expected to be arraigned on state narcotics charges in Macon County Circuit Court within a week.