Officers cooperate, seize cash, drugs on interstate

ST. MARYS, Ga. --- Blue Lightning struck more than a few motorists on Interstate 95 in Camden County this week.

But it wasn't an atmospheric anomaly. It was county, city and state law enforcement officers intercepting illegal drug traffic traveling the interstate.

At least $304,000 in cash, 80 pounds of marijuana, 15 grams of cocaine and an assortment of pills including Xanax and Ecstasy had been seized by nightfall Thursday in Operation Blue Lightning, said Lt. William Terrell, a spokesman for the Camden County Sheriff's Office.

Also seized was a 2000 tractor-trailer, where deputies reported finding 60 pounds of marijuana hidden behind boxes inside the trailer.

Several people were arrested on a variety of charges. Authorities planned to release their names, and a final list of the drugs, money and other items seized during a news conference.

Begun Monday morning, the joint operation was scheduled to conclude Thursday night. It was conducted by sheriff's deputies from Camden, Lowndes and Dooly counties, Kingsland police officers and Georgia State Patrol troopers.

Thursday's announcement solved a puzzle for residents who wondered why out-of-county sheriff's deputies were stopping cars along I-95.

A suitcase containing $250,095 in tightly packed cash was recovered Wednesday night from a 2007 Lincoln Town Car occupied by two women driving south on I-95 to Hollywood, Fla., Lt. Terrell said.

"They said they didn't know how it got there," Lt. Terrell said.

The women were released after being questioned by investigators.

Before the women left, both signed statements saying the money didn't belong to them. Investigators confiscated the cash, he said.

Deputies from the three counties participated in a similar drug interdiction a few weeks ago in South Carolina. The Camden operation evolved from that experience, Lt. Terrell said.

It illustrates the effectiveness of cooperation between law enforcement agencies, Camden Sheriff Bill Smith said.

"Time and again we have seen that these long-term working relationships between various agencies are the most effective way to fulfill our mandate to protect and serve all the citizens in our community," Sheriff Smith said in a statement.

The Sheriff's Office expects to conduct similar operations in the future, Lt. Terrell said.