Beatrice Police K9 “Thomas” and handler, recover large quantity of meth

BEATRICE – Beatrice Police recovered a half-pound of suspected methamphetamine during a Sunday night arrest, making it one of the largest amounts seized in recent memory.

At about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, a Beatrice officer was following a vehicle suspected to be driven by a person known to use narcotics. The officer observed a male and female get out of the vehicle, after parking in the 400 block of North 5th.

Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang says it was another score for a department K-9 Officer named Thomas, and his handler Sergeant Derrick Hosick.
"He detected drugs in a vehicle that was parked on the street. A subsequent investigation revealed the drugs and money you see before you here. It led to search warrants in some other jurisdictions. We think in the end, there will be multiple arrests for drug distribution throughout southeast Nebraska."

Lang says the extent of the case and the amount of money seized could lead to a federal prosecution. K-9 Thomas is one of two department canines and has been with Beatrice Police for about a year.  "It's an expensive and long process to get a dog trained at this level and he's done a really good job."

Sergeant Hosick described what happened when Thomas did a walk around search of the vehicle.
"He does an alert and indication just on one of the door panels, actually the back panel that was closest to the backpack where the substance was. So, he kind of works the scent cone to find where the strongest source of the odor, is. He worked it right through the door panel there. He inevitably does a passive indication which is usually a sit. He sits and just kind of stares at where the odor is coming from....and then he gets rewarded later, for that."

Hosick says Thomas is attentive and obedient.  "He's super attentive to what's going on...and he hates being left behind, I know that. He just likes being part of the group."

The search of the vehicle turned up a backpack containing about 180 grams of a crystalline substance, a container of white powder, a digital scale with crystal residue and several zip-lock bags. Police also found cash totaling $3,738.

Police arrested 39-year-old Joseph Harwell on suspicion of two counts of possession with intent to deliver drugs, possession of an exceptionally hazardous drug, possession of drug money, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.