OWENSBORO, Ky (WEHT) The DEA and local law enforcement have announced what they’re calling the most significant drug bust in the City of Owensboro’s history.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky says officers found 151 pounds of methamphetamine and three and a half pounds of pills, including fentanyl and other drugs. The DEA says the methamphetamine seized is worth around $7 million.
Police say the investigation into Willie Watkins, 30, of Owensboro has been ongoing for months.
Watkins is accused of coordinating an effort to buy 150 pounds of meth in Los Angeles, CA and pills in Phoenix, AZ. Law enforcement says a vehicle was stopped in Oklahoma City a little more than a week ago when the drugs were discovered and Watkins was arrested.
Days later search warrants were issued around Owensboro leading to the arrests of Christopher McNary, Richard Cason, Keith Watkins, and Samuel White.
All are now facing federal drug charges.
“This here is the most significant narcotics seizure that we have been involved in,” says Chief Art Ealum of the Owensboro Police Dept.
151 pounds of meth sat on a table during Tuesday’s press conference at the Owensboro Convention Center.
“Look at the volume of death and destruction that is on this table that is not going into the arms, not being smoked, not destroying families in Daviess County,” said Russell Coleman, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
It was seized during the traffic stop in Oklahoma, which led to the arrest of Watkins.
“When you really look at it, you look at almost four professional football stadiums could have been filled with methamphetamine users for dosage units or people with the amount of meth we’ve seized in this investigation,” said Michael Gannon, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge.
Authorities also found 3.5 pounds of counterfeit pills possibly containing fentanyl. The five arrested face charges of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a substance and more than 400 grams of a mixture containing fentanyl. Searches done last week in Owensboro lead to seizures of more meth, pills, guns and $325,000 in cash.
“The word needs to go out. Daviess County, the city of Owensboro, the state of Kentucky and the United States of America is not going to tolerate this,” said Bruce Kuegel, Commonwealth Attorney for Daviess County.
Federal court records show Watkins and others went to Los Angeles earlier this month, and wiretaps on his phone indicated talking about buying the meth and bringing it back to Kentucky. One of two vehicles with the drugs were stopped at a gas station in Oklahoma City.
Authorities say the investigation is still going on. If convicted, the five face up to ten years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
(This story was originally published on January 19, 2021)