Special Reports

Major drug busts aren’t where you think

The small-time drug pusher spends his time on the streets, hustling from one deal to another.

He’s not the guy you’ll find at a street corner in a neighborhood with $300,000 homes, but his product might be.

That’s because major drug busts occur in areas away from high-crime neighborhoods, said Rick Stinson, special agent in charge of the Metro Narcotics Task Force.

“If a large drug supplier is going to bring in a large quantity of drugs, he’s not going to bring it to a high-drug area,” Stinson said. “It’ll be brought into those areas in smaller amounts.”

Putting a large amount of drugs — three, four or five kilgrams of cocaine, for example — in a nice neighborhood or storage unit away from the street dealers makes good business sense for the dealer, Stinson said. What he sees are major dealers visiting Atlanta, making a big purchase and then bringing it back to Columbus. It will then be distributed in smaller amounts to the street-level dealer.

One ounce of cocaine is enough for a trafficking charge, though Stinson said he considers finding anything more than a kilogram of cocaine — more than 35 ounces — a major bust.

And while a street dealer might have three to five kilograms on him at a time, it’s rare because there’s no reason for him to have that much, Stinson said.

One of the biggest busts in Columbus happened about four years ago. It involved more than 200 kilos — 7,000 ounces of cocaine.

Most of it was in a storage unit off of Milgen Road, but some was also in a rented home in the Beaver Run area.

“I’m sure the rent was more than $2,000 a month,” Stinson said of the home.

In addition, some 800 pounds of marijuana were found in the bust.

Recently sold homes in the Beaver Run area were mostly in the $200,000-265,000 range.

They’re in a neighborhood with winding roads situated around a large lake.

“It’s just smart,” Stinson said of the location. “Obviously, your high-crime areas are areas where a lot of police activity happens. If you’re fixing to bring dope into an area that’s highly patrolled, that ain’t smart. It’s the old thing of don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”