Records request sheds light on drug interdictions

Note: This article is part of a weeklong series, running March 14 to March 20, honoring Sunshine Week.

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Kansas Highway Patrol troopers in 2009 seized nearly $27 million in drugs from the state’s highways, according to information obtained through an open records request.

Among the drugs officers took from suspects were nearly 8,100 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of about $16.2 million; 116.7 mushrooms, worth $10 apiece; and one dose of LSD, valued at $10. Officers also seized cocaine, methamphetamine and crack.

In response to a broad 6News/Lawrence Journal-World records request for information regarding drug seizures, the highway patrol said it was able to provide only limited information about last year’s drug seizures, because some of the evidence was tied up in current investigations or litigation and could not be made public.

The highway patrol said it also seized 75 vehicles and 27 firearms and made 506 arrests in connection with its drug busts last year.

As part of an identical open records request, Lawrence police said 497 cases were associated with narcotics charges in 2009 in the city. Sgt. Bill Cory, police spokesman, said the agency could not release any hard numbers regarding drug seizures.

“The Lawrence Police Department does not maintain a detailed report of those drug seizures or any forfeitures that arise out of a drug case,” Cory said.

Kansas Highway Patrol 2009 drug seizures

Drug — Amount — “Street value”

Marijuana — 8,090.923 pounds — $16,181,846

Cocaine — 461.565 pounds — $9,692,865

Methamphetamine — 42.522 pounds — $850,440

Crack — 106.7 grams — $13,337.50

LSD — 1 dosage unit — $10

Mushrooms — 116.7 — $1,167

Total street value — $26,739,665.50

How the information for this story was obtained

What information and records were requested?

A detailed report of all drug seizures made in 2009, including information about what drugs were seized and what items were seized for forfeiture.

Which agencies?

Kansas Highway Patrol, Lawrence Police

How quickly did they respond to the request?

Both agencies responded to request within three days and asked for clarified information about what records were desired.

Information was received from the highway patrol two business days later.

Lawrence police did not respond to a second open records request that clarified what information was being requested. A spokesman several weeks later said there was a breakdown in communication.

How much did records cost?

Information was provided by the highway patrol at no charge.

Was any information from the request denied?

Yes. Some information was not available from the highway patrol under the Open Records Act, because it “is tied to an outstanding criminal investigation and/or litigation,” said Herman Jones, records custodian.

Is this information currently accessible by the public?

A complete list of drug seizures is not available online, though Lawrence police sometimes list information about them on criminal offense reports, which are available online.