ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Just when you thought K-9 officers couldn't get any cooler, along comes Gus.
Gus is a K-9 officer with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff's officials are thanking their lucky stars for Gus after a bust on Interstate 26 aided by the dog helped them confiscate more over $250,000 worth of heroin.
That bust, according to sheriff's officials, is one of the biggest busts in county history.
"It's big," said Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell. "Not only the amount of heroin we stopped and got off the streets but also the idea of the choice of drug people are now using. It's big for Orangeburg and the State of South Carolina to get that amount of drugs off the streets."
The bust also led to an arrest. Javier Perez Flores, 42, of Guadalajara, Mexico, was detained on June 23 after he was stopped by South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers for weaving across the center lane of Interstate 26.
When the white Dodge truck was stopped, Gus alerted that narcotics were in the vehicle. According to Investigator Donald Boyne, Gus's breathing changed when he climbed under the truck to indicate there was something inside. A careful search turned up a hidden compartment inside the truck known in the trade as a "trap." Inside the trap was two kilograms - or 4.4 pounds - of heroin wrapped in black plastic and $15,900 in cash.
Agents said Flores admitted he was bringing the shipment from Mexico. Flores was less than two hours from what he said was his intended destination of Charlotte, NC.
Gus is just one of nine K-9 officers working with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. The department said the K-9 program is in its infancy and they currently train their K-9 officers with other local departments with larger K-9 units. Still, they could certainly use more officers in the program.
"At some point, you have to invest a little more in law enforcement in public safety simply because there are things just coming through that you have no idea," Sheriff Ravenell said. " You know, just that amount of drugs that we got off the street that night, just think about what we missed. You know, that's the sad part."
Sheriff Ravenell noted that the department is working to have county council allocate more funds while applying for grants that can these operations going.
However, he said operations like the one Gus successfully led Friday will continue in hopes of taking drugs off the streets and putting traffickers behind bars.