Truck driver arrested after officers find $3.5 million of cocaine hidden in truck’s axles

BLAKESLEE, PA (WCMH) — A semi-truck driver is facing charges after officers with the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Pocono Mountain Regional Police found $3.5 million of cocaine hidden in the axles of his truck.

According to WFMZ, the bust happened in early February after receiving a tip about a large shipment of cocaine. The information led to the second-largest cocaine bust in recent years.

“The resident office in Scranton received national intelligence regarding the possibility of a shipment of large quantities of cocaine coming through our area,” said Chief Chris Wagner with the Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

Jim Booterbaugh, who lives near the warehouse where the driver Manuel Escarcega Jr. was apprehended, saw the whole bust go down.

“They are sitting across the street, and they’re watching with binoculars,” Booterbaugh said.

When officers intercepted the semi-truck, they didn’t know exactly where the drugs would be hidden on the big rig. After searching the truck, they found 46 kilograms of cocaine, worth about $3.5 million, hidden in the truck’s axles.

“Drug organizations go to great lengths to transport and conceal large quantities of controlled substances, so they come up with some pretty clever ways to conceal it,” Chief Wagner said. “That amount of cocaine is obviously not a frequent occurrence.”

Escarcega now faces charges for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute a large substance.

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