The HIGH-way Pipeline - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The HIGH-way Pipeline

Captain J. D. Yeager Captain J. D. Yeager

November 10, 2003

Lowndes County - Where are the top drug busters in Law Enforcement in the nation? Some are right here in South Georgia.

They're called the ICE Team, Interstate Criminal Enforcers. The team has an outstanding nose for narcotics, and it's a good thing. They work on a section of road know to be a pipeline for drugs.

Eight pounds of methamphetamines, more than 100 pounds of marijuana, and a full methamphetamine lab on wheels are just a few trophy drug seizures for the Lowndes County ICE Team. "It's like a game, they're trying to outsmart us and we're trying to outsmart them," said Mark Terrell, ICE Team member.

Day in and day out, rain or shine, the Interstate Criminal Enforcement team is guarding I-75. "It's definitely never boring," said Doug Haskell, ICE Team Member.

The team has an ability to spot drugs like no other. Vehicles that pass through other towns transporting illegal drugs don't usually make it through Lowndes County. "I had a guy that I stopped one time and he had three maps telling him how to get around Lowndes County because our name was out there," said Captain J. D. Yeager.

They've seized a little bit of everything. "We're finding marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, if they can make it, then they'll find an illegal way to ship it," said Terrell.

And they find it in places you'd never imagine. "We've found drugs hidden in air bag compartments, side door panels, and even dashboards," said Terrell. "Basically anywhere they can get into

Interstate 75 is often called the main artery for traveling through the United States. It leads all the way from northern Michigan to the southern tip of Florida, and is an ideal path for drug trafficking. "You can go without a lot of turning, moving, and having to stop from anywhere in Florida up to the north end of the country," said Yeager.

You're probably wondering what special training helps them spot the drugs that other law enforcement often miss. Members of the ICE team say they take the typical traffic stop a step further. "Instead of just writing a traffic citation and turning them loose, we look for other criminal activity," said Haskell. "You have to be really good at reading body language."

But the ICE Team doesn't work alone. Their K-9's are an vital part of their drug seizures. "A lot of times drug dealers will mask odors. We've had it wrapped in mustard, motor oil, but the dog goes right through that smell because he can tell the difference, he can smell the motor oil but he also smells the drugs," said Yeager.

The drugs they seize bring big bucks to Lowndes County. "Eighty percent of the money that's seized comes back to the department to buy law enforcement equipment," said Yeager.

But the biggest reward isn't the money. "It's the satisfaction of knowing that I'm accomplishing getting drugs off the street," said Terrell. And knowing that because of them, Lowndes County is playing a big role in the war on drugs.

posted at 4:45 by ashley.harper@walb.com