A federal judge has allowed authorities to cut down a wall to transport a 900-pound Virginia man to court in a cocaine conspiracy case.
Kenneth Hicks, 48, from Emporia was scheduled to appear in court on a video link on March 21, but he sought help to be carried to the U.S. District Court in Richmond for a hearing on May 13, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
He is one of the seven people charged in the conspiracy and one of the three who pleaded guilty.
— Rich Tehrani (@rtehrani) May 13, 2019
The court papers say that the conspiracy to distribute cocaine happened between 2013 to 2017 and that if Hicks pleads guilty, he’ll be arrested and immediately shifted to a secure medical facility.
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak approved the unusual transportation plan sought by the government and Hicks’s lawyer on May 7.
“The FBI and U.S. Marshals may determine that it is necessary to open a large hole in the wall of the structure in order to facilitate the use of a device capable of lifting the defendant’s weight,” stated the government’s request to Novak, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Hicks has asked the FBI, the Marshals Service, and first responders to check him for any medical issues.
“Once the medical personnel confirm that the defendant can be moved, the FBI will determine the best way to accomplish this while ensuring the safety and well-being of the defendant, as well as all government personnel,” stated the request.
People, if you ever get to 400 pounds that’s a good sign that you probably need to stop.
900-pound Virginia man to be transported to court, possibly after officials cut out his wall: report – Fox News https://t.co/XmNAO9M28s
— David Scott (@SgtDavidScott) May 13, 2019
Because of his weight, the authorities said they planned to put Hicks on a gurney, transport him through a door, over a ramp.
“This procedure may also require the removal of the ramp near his doorway, and trees on the property. This procedure may require the bracing of the floor, and the removal of parts of the ceiling structure as well,” said the request approved by the Novak.
“All steps will be taken to minimize damage and protect the defendant’s property.”
Sea Turtle Found Entangled in $53 Million Worth of Cocaine
In another seizure of cocaine, the U.S. Coast Guard retrieved 1,800 pounds of cocaine tied in cords that had also trapped a sea turtle.
The drugs were first spotted by a military plane over the eastern Pacific Ocean on Nov. 19, 2017, according to the Miami Herald. The coast guard then headed out to investigate.
They found the turtle entangled in cords that strung together 26 packages of cocaine worth a whopping $53 million, NBC News reported.
Coast guard personnel were able to cut through the cords that had tightly become wrapped around the turtle’s neck and fins.
#CoastGuard #USCG: Turtle Found by US Coast Guard with $53 million Worth of Cocaine Attached to It – A giant sea turtle had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after it became entangled in a rope att https://t.co/q2lEL5IdNg
— Coast Guard Live (@CGLiveApp) December 22, 2017
“There were some marks on her neck, so she may have been there a day or two,” Commander Jose Diaz told NBC News.
In total, the team found 75 feet of cord trapping the turtle. They removed all of it so no other sea life would get caught.
The cocaine was found floating in the water, without a smuggling vessel in sight.
“They probably felt the heat coming and got rid of it,” Diaz said of whoever lost the drugs, via NBC News.
The Coast Guard cutter USCGC Thetis, stationed in Key West, Florida, was on a 68-day deployment when it successfully tracked down the 1,800 pounds of cocaine, the Sun Sentinel reported. Altogether on its two-month patrol, the team on the USCGC Thetis arrested 24 smugglers and seized over 14,892 pounds of cocaine as well as 14 pounds of marijuana.
The deployment was part of Operation Martillo—an international effort to target drug trafficking routes along the coast of Central America. The operation began in 2012 and includes 14 countries.
Although opioids are still the biggest source of drug use in the United States, cocaine is making a comeback, leading to increased production in Colombia, NBC News reported.
NTD News reporter Colin Fredericson contributed to this report.