"People don't use their life savings to go get marijuana, it's usually crime proceeds that fund the marijuana trade." -- Sheriff Terry Wagner
The war on illegal drugs is ever evolving. Fighting on the front-line are the Lancaster County Sheriff's Deputies. With new marijuana laws in Colorado, it's become a bitter battle at the border.
"I-80 has always been a drug pipeline through state, either from Mexico hauling meth east or marijuana from other places, so it's always been a problem. People don't use their life savings to go get marijuana, it's usually crime proceeds that fund the marijuana trade," Sheriff Terry Wagner said.
Just last November, Colorado voters made it legal to possess a small amount of marijuana in their state. But, before this, Wagner was already seeing more and more of the drug bleed into Nebraska due to our neighbor allowing medical marijuana.
"Some of that stays here. It doesn't all go through the state, a lot of it stays here. So we are combating the issue of bringing a higher grade of drug into Nebraska than we normally wouldn't have," Wagner said.
It's still to be seen how the federal government will deal with legalized recreational marijuana, but Nebraska law enforcement stand strong in the fight.
"It's still a crime. The second they cross the boarder, if they have a card or something like that that says they can legally possess it in another state, once they cross the board it's not worth anything. So if they come here, it's still illegal to have it," Deputy Jason Mayo said.
LSO utilizes canine units and specially trained deputies to shut down the drug pipeline. Fresh off the narcotics task force, Deputy Mayo is one of the department's best weapons.
"It's a challenge definitely. It's kind of like catching a needle in a haystack," Mayor said.
Mayo is good at finding that needle. On back to back nights in December, with a little help from a canine nose, he netted more than 20 pounds of high grade marijuana, worth about $100,000.
Mayo knows all the hiding places in a car, but he says it's actually easier to find the high grade drug.
"The don't want to compact it or mess it up by forcing it down into a small package so it's really hard to conceal. So, you know pretty soon if someone has something, you just open suitcases in the car because you can't physically put it somewhere else," Mayo said.
It's not just weed Mayo is catching on I-80. He's brought in LSO's biggest bust of methamphetamine, 5.6 pounds. LSO is also seeing other disturbing products, like marijuana candy.
"People not knowing what that might be, children or other adults, ingesting marijuana candy, I don't know what kind of effect it would have on them," Wagner said.
They don't expect the flow of drugs to stop anytime soon. If anything, they expect to see more drugs, especially if Colorado becomes the Amsterdam of the West with pot tourism.