A large drug arrest in Omaha has people in a small Oregon town wondering about one of their own.
Vanessa Dean, 25, of Cave Junction, Ore., was caught with nearly 160 pounds of hallucinogenic mushrooms, Omaha police said.
She has been charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a felony.
Police said Dean was stopped March 2 on Interstate 80 near 36th Street for following too closely. They said they “observed numerous signs of criminal activity.”
During a search of the 1995 Toyota 4-Runner she was driving, police found 319 freezer bags of suspected mushrooms in the rear cargo area.
The total weight was 159.5 pounds, police said.
The mushrooms contain psilocybin, which can cause hallucinations as well as nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness and lack of coordination, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Dean is being held on $200,000 bond. She is scheduled to be in court later this month. A call to her attorney was not returned.
Andrea Thomas, a friend of Dean, said the news that Dean was in a Nebraska jail traveled fast in Cave Junction, which has less than 2,000 residents.
“I never would have thought she'd be involved in something like this,” Thomas said.
Dan Mancuso, editor of the Illinois Valley News in Cave Junction, said he started making calls after noticing Dean's absence from a friendly card game.
Last summer, Dean worked at Thomas' restaurant, but the two lost touch.
Thomas said she had heard that Dean's mother had medical problems.
She called Dean “a good girl” and “academically smart.”
“Nobody knows a whole lot, but we do care and would like to help in some way,” Thomas said.
Kyle Rettstadt, 29, of Portland, Ore., a passenger in Dean's vehicle, was charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Rettstadt also was being held on $200,000 bond.
By Sam Womack
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER