SOUTH SIOUX CITY - A block of white powder that appears to be cocaine or another illicit drug was no doubt the most unusual item found Saturday by volunteers pulling junk out of the Missouri River and off of its banks.
Sally Reinert, local coordinator of the annual Missouri River Clean-Up, said the South Sioux City police told her they believe the white "brick" discovered near the old Floyd River channel, is cocaine.
Sgt. Chris Chernock said a couple hours later that officers took the brick to the department's evidence room where they field-tested it for heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine - anything they could - but it didn't test positive for any of them. He said it could have been out in the weather too long for field testing, which isn't very sophisticated.
"We definitely believe it's some kind of illicit substance," Chernock said. "It's 2.9 pounds, and is wrapped repeatedly in layers of silver duct tape."
Chernock said a kilo, the usual way large quantities of illegal drugs are packaged, is 2.2 pounds and is typically wrapped in a clear membrane, as this brick was. The difference could be the weight of the duct tape, he said.
Chernock said South Sioux City police were called because the event was staged on that side of the river, but the brick was found near the old Floyd River channel in Sioux City. Sioux City police directed South Sioux to keep custody and continue their investigation. Police could only speculate that it may have been jettisoned from a vehicle going over the channel, fleeing police.
That "junk" was found at about 2:30 p.m. Unfortunately for the volunteer who found it, the "Most Unusual Find" contest had already closed, Reinert joked.
The winning "Most Unusual Find" was not something found every year, either. Reinert said a young man had found the full skeletal remains of a dog, complete with collar and tags.
"I'm going to call the owners," she said, "as soon as I can figure out what to say."
Reinert said about 85 volunteers showed up for the annual river clean-up event. She figured they had pulled about five tons of old tires and other junk from the river. "That's more than they got in Omaha," she said of that area's recent river clean-up.
Reinert said the amount of garbage pulled from the river is indicative of the number of volunteers.
State Steel will take all the metal and the rest of the items will go to L.P. Gill Landfill in Jackson, Neb., including the dozens of tires, which will be shredded and recycled.
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