One day following the discovery of more than 750 pounds of marijuana in a culvert off of a rural Buchanan County roadway, bag after bag of the drug was thrown into a makeshift fire pit and destroyed.
"We contacted federal authorities and they gave us permission to destroy the drugs," said Buchanan County Commissioner Ron Hook, who was overseeing the burning of the marijuana at a location near Sugar Lake.
It was the end of an extraordinary 24 hours for county officials.
Because of an illegal dumping problem, in recent months Hook organized a detail of highway clean up crews made up of inmates from the Buchanan County Jail.
While on patrol Monday on Highway HH in south Buchanan County between Dekalb and Rushville, a crew came upon a dump site that contained neither garbage, old tires or other debris.
"Bags and bags of marijuana," Hook said. "My reaction was, what did we stumble on to?"
Most of the marijuana was wrapped in individual one-pound sealed, airtight bags, ready to sell.
Buchanan County Drug Strike Force Director Mike Donaldson estimated the value of the drugs could be as high as $2 million on the streets.
"(Drug Strike Force deputies) came down and they looked at all the bags," Hook said. "They processed and made sure that it was marijuana. They tested it, counted it and inventoried it."
"I've never heard of a thing like this happen in my 25 years of service," Donaldson said.
The drugs were found deep in a culvert off of County Road HH about five miles west of Dekalb.
Neighbors in the area were stunned when they heard of the marijuana discovery.
"I couldn't believe it," said Betty Reagan. The Reagan family has been farming in the area for more than 42 years.
"Nothing like that's ever happened around here," she said. "It's really quiet. You hear a car go by every now and then but otherwise, nothing happens."
Hook says this is a wake up call to the prevalence of drugs.
"People have to realize that there are drugs in our community in this quantity," he said. "I never thought it and I've lived here my whole life."
But for the 750 pounds of marijuana in the fire pit, they are off the market.
"It's just great that we can get these drugs off the street," Hook said. "We'll probably never stumble on anything like this ever again."
The Drug Strike Force continues to investigate where the drugs might have come from and who they belonged to.
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