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Shelby County resident finds marijuana in safe

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SIDNEY — The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has recovered 285 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of about $425,000 after the office received a call June 19 regarding the “found contraband.”

Sheriff John Lenhart said the call came from a local resident who had ordered a gun safe from the Champion Safe Co., based in Provo, Utah. When the resident received the Champion Trophy 42 model safe, which weighs almost 1,000 pounds and stands more than five feet high, he opened it to find 10 large bundles of marijuana.

The investigation revealed that the safe was manufactured in Nogales, Mexico, using inmate labor. It was transported by Con-Way trucking to the Sportsman’s Den, which specializes in hunting and outdoor gear, located in Shelby. From there it was delivered by an independent trucking company to the Shelby County resident who discovered the illegal contents.

Deputies said the semi was carrying a full shipment of 30 or 40 safes, but Lenhart said all of the others were checked during the investigation and none of them contained contraband.

Lenhart said the volume of drugs involved indicates that this process is clearly being used as a means of smuggling. The DEA has reported that the driver who initially brought the shipment into the United States currently is missing.

Lenhart said law enforcement has kept a lid on the case while they gathered more information, to avoid tipping off the criminals.

The DEA and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification are in charge of continuing the investigation.

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