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Police make biggest Benzie cocaine bust

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Police have stopped two kilograms of cocaine from being sold in northern Michigan. The cocaine was allegedly mailed from an address in Texas to James Lopez of Benzie County. Law enforcement intercepted the package at a local post office before it reached Lopez.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dan King, head of the Traverse Narcotics Team (TNT), says they rarely see drug packages this large in northern Michigan.

“To my memory, it’s the largest seizure and arrest of cocaine in Benzie County,” says King.

King says cocaine is typically sold at $150 per gram on the street, making this two kilogram package worth around $300,000.

The investigation was a collaboration between TNT, Benzie County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Postal Service.

At a time when people are dying from drug overdoses at record numbers around the country, police say removing cocaine from the street is a big deal.

“My goal as the sheriff of Benzie County is to minimize the amount of poison that’s coming into this county,” says Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel.

Schendel says they were tipped off by a confidential informant in March.

“This whole case started with basically some good, old fashioned police work,” he says.

The sheriff’s office passed the information to TNT. TNT then asked the U.S. Postal Service to flag Lopez’s address.

Schendel says after they stopped the package of cocaine, they got a warrant to search Lopez’s house on April 6, where they found other drugs.

“Mainly marijuana,” he says. “Nothing significant.”

Schendel says they haven’t intercepted other drug packages intended for Lopez, but they did stop another package mailed to a different address in Benzie County in the last two weeks. He says there was cocaine in that package, along with other drugs.

He says both packages originated from Texas.

“We are seeking some help from our partners in Texas to see if we can’t make some arrests down there as well,” he says.

He says he expects there will be more arrests locally as well.

Lopez is currently being held in the Benzie County Jail. If found guilty, he could face life in prison.