NE: Fentanyl-laced cocaine that caused overdose deaths was stolen from Nebraska State Patrol evidence locker, officials say

A former patrol evidence technician and the owner of a Lincoln restaurant were arrested in the theft.

Lincoln Police and the Nebraska State Patrol have linked fentanyl-laced cocaine that has led to multiple overdose deaths to the patrol’s own evidence locker, the agencies announced in a joint press conference Friday.

A former patrol evidence technician and the owner of a Lincoln restaurant were arrested in the theft.

The law enforcement agencies announced the arrest of Anna Idigima and George Weaver Jr. on suspicion of conspiracy to distribute 140 grams or more of cocaine or fentanyl, a felony charge.

Idigma, 35, had been a Nebraska State Patrol employee for more than a decade, patrol Col. John Bolduc said. Weaver, 36, owned and operated GrannyWeavs Soul Food and Catering in Lincoln, a business he started after a stint in prison.

Bolduc said the evidence storage facility where Idigima is alleged to have acquired the cocaine is audited frequently, both via scheduled and surprise checks. He said the laced cocaine that went missing appears to have been taken immediately following a recent audit, though he declined to say when that audit was performed, or exactly how often they occur.

Still, Bolduc defended the patrol’s “top-notch evidence storage system and facility” which he said is “constantly being audited and reviewed.”

Fentanyl-laced cocaine led to 35 overdoses in the Lincoln area between July 25 and Aug. 19, according to Lincoln Police. Nine victims and one unborn child died as a result of those overdoses, LPD Chief Teresa Ewins said on Friday.

“There is no system that is 100% foolproof when it comes to the human element,” Bolduc said. “We have an employee — a former employee — who, by all indications, was a competent, trusted employee for 14 years. Until she wasn’t.”

LPD Capt. Ryan Dale, who leads the Lincoln-Lancaster County Narcotics Task Force, said the State Patrol has been fully cooperative with the unit’s investigation into Idigima.

Bolduc said Idigima had worked for the last several years as an evidence technician, a role that gave her access to the drugs. He said LPD notified the patrol of its investigation into the employee on Aug. 20, and the patrol immediately cut off her access to secure facilities and suspended her. On Aug. 27, she was terminated, Bolduc said.
He said the State Patrol’s facilities meet all accreditation standards, though the agency has started a review of its processes, he said.

Dale said the department isn’t yet sure exactly how many overdoses or deaths the once-seized cocaine is linked to. He said it was “heartbreaking” to learn that illegal drugs that had been taken off the streets by law enforcement found their way back, resulting in the death of at least one person, according to the warrant.

“It’s frustrating,” said Dale, who leads a unit that dedicated 5,000 man hours to this investigation. “We are proud to serve in this profession and serve the citizens of our communities, and anytime that something like this comes up, it’s obviously heartbreaking.”
Tags: Opioid Crisis

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