BERKELEY, Mo. – As special agents with Homeland Security Investigations conduct an operation on a metro St. Louis interstate, a police officer trying to combat drug trafficking is not surprised.
Berkeley Police Department Major Steve Runge said there’s always a battle to keep drug traffickers from setting up shop in local communities.
“Drugs are very close to home,” Runge said. “We have a saying that all roads lead to Berkeley. I mean, (Interstate) 70 comes right through Berkeley, 270 on the north side.”
Runge has been chasing down drug dealers for the last three decades. He knows how to pick out potential suspects.
“They all use rental cars; they don’t use their own cars. If you have two people in the car, we always separate them immediately,” Runge said.
Right off I-170 on Sunday, Berkeley police took half a brick of what’s believed to be cocaine, a scale, a stolen gun and ammo off the streets.
“This particular guy is a fentanyl dealer. It was kind of surprising to get him with the cocaine, but we’ll take that,” Runge said.
The major is not surprised to hear Homeland Security Investigations was conducting a drug investigation on Interstate 270 the day before.
The FOX Files spotted a K-9 and special agents on the side of the road for nearly two hours searching an SUV and the luggage from the trunk.
Federal authorities have not confirmed what’s been found, but sources said special agents found what’s believed to be drugs but waiting on a lab to confirm.
“The drug cartels might notice some extra enforcement on 44 and they think they’ll outsmart the police and take the 270 interchange to go to Chicago,” Runge said.
While St. Louis may be the gateway to the west, it’s also a hub to push drugs east, south and north. Interstate 270 is a quick shot to interstates leading to Chicago, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans.
“We want the dealer to give us his dealer and the higher up the food chain we go, the more drugs we can get off the street,” Runge said.
For this cop at heart, keeping each drug dealer off the streets could save a life.
“The overdoses are left and right, the drug trafficking, the suspects we bring into custody—a lot of drug-related crime,” Runge said.
Federal agents have not said if an arrest was made on I-270, citing an ongoing investigation.
Runge said Berkeley detectives have forwarded the case to the United States Attorney’s Office for review.