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Nebraska State Patrol, DEA agent make state's biggest fentanyl seizure yet
 Lori Pilger  / 

The Drug Enforcement Agency and the Nebraska State Patrol made a record-setting fentanyl seizure — 15 kilos, with a potential street value of $15 million — during routine surveillance at the Amtrak train station in Omaha on Wednesday morning.

"This fentanyl seizure is the largest-ever in Nebraska and one of the largest in the nation," Acting U.S. Attorney Robert Stuart said in a press release Thursday.

Edgar Navarro-Aguirre, a 27-year-old California man, has been charged with possession with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl, an opioid said to be 40 to 50 times more potent than heroin.

They believe he was taking the drug from Sacramento to the New York and New Jersey area, according to the press release.

In court documents, a special agent with the DEA said she noticed a newer-looking, black suitcase, without an ID tag, tucked in the far back of the self-storage luggage shelves behind another bag.

As the agent and a State Patrol investigator were asking people on the train car if the bag belonged to them, Navarro-Aguirre walked up and said it was his friend's.

He previously had said it wasn't his.

According to the affidavit for Navarro-Aguirre's arrest, he told the State Patrol investigator he had traveled from Colorado, which didn't match his ticket, which said he had boarded at Sacramento, California.

Navarro-Aguirre denied there was anything illegal in the bag and told officials they could search it, the DEA agent said. Inside, they found 15 vacuum-sealed bundles of white powder ultimately found to be fentanyl, according to the affidavit.

The total weight of one of the packages was 1.2 kilos, or roughly 2.7 pounds.

8th Circuit set to hear arguments in Beatrice 6 appeal
 Lori Pilger  / 

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments next month in Gage County's appeal of a $28.1 million verdict for six people wrongfully convicted for a Beatrice woman's 1985 rape and murder.

Judges Duane Benton, Bobby Shepherd and Jane Kelly will hear the case at the Roman L. Hruska Federal Courthouse in Omaha on Nov. 16.

A jury in 2016 found that Gage County, Sheriff's Deputy Burdette Searcey and Reserve Deputy/psychiatrist Wayne Price violated the civil rights of the so-called Beatrice 6.

The jury awarded $7.3 million each to Thomas Winslow, Ada JoAnn Taylor and the estate of Joseph White for the nearly 20 years they spent in prison, plus $6.2 million shared between James Dean, Kathleen Gonzalez and Debra Shelden, who each served five years or less in prison.

The six were arrested following a 1989 cold-case investigation, but DNA testing in 2008 pointed to Bruce Allen Smith as the person who killed Helen Wilson.

Courtesy photo 


Fugitive accused of beating 2 people with bats arrested

Grand Island police, working on information from the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, arrested a man accused of holding two people hostage and beating them with a baseball bat.

Joel Watermeier, 49, was considered very dangerous, the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said. He was arrested without incident Wednesday evening, Sheriff Terry Wagner said.

Lincoln police believe he beat two friends with a baseball bat, bound them with duct tape and held them at their home near 44th and Calvert streets on Sept. 19, refusing to let them go to the hospital until dark. Both victims suffered serious facial injuries, police said.

A warrant for Watermeier's arrest listed charges of first-degree assault, first-degree false imprisonment and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.

Watermeier served 10 years in prison for running his car into Lancaster County sheriff's deputies near Conestoga Lake in 2002. He was shot during the incident, and had a bullet fragment lodged in his head.

"He's a bad guy," Wagner said last month.

Normal Boulevard to close near Holmes Lake for repairs
 ShellyKulhanek  / 

Normal Boulevard from 62nd Street to Park Crest Court will close Monday for pavement repairs that are expected to continue through the rest of October.

Access to Holmes Lake Park will be maintained via the east entrance on 70th Street.

Records, 10.13.17
 Jane Swanson  / 


Oct. 9

Artis, Alexus, Lincoln, girl, Bryan

Schoettger, Kali (Peter) and Jared, Lincoln, boy, Bryan

Zhang, Xu, and Sun, Zuchen, Lincoln, boy, Bryan

Zila, Katie (Konopasek) and Justin, Lincoln, boy, Bryan

Oct. 10

Bigbee, Anne (Wallman) and Dan, Lincoln, boy and girl twins, St. Elizabeth

Ellingson, Heidi (Young) and Andrew Jr., Lincoln, girl, Bryan

Jackson, Alexis (Pulver) and Jaimeson, Lincoln, boy, Bryan

Kahlandt, Taylor (Emshoff) and Kory, Exeter, girl, Bryan

Nguyen, Huynh and Joe, Lincoln, girl, Bryan

Oct. 11

Webb, Deniese (Niesh) and Presston, Lincoln, boy, St. Elizabeth

Restaurant inspections

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has issued food enforcement warnings to:

IHop, 4501 N. 27th St. Complaint. Some items delivered from truck and rack next to leak in dry storage have been adulterated, including a bag of pancake mix and onions. Items discarded. Cans have been dripped on well, must clean and sanitize prior to opening. Corrected.

La Cabana, 3223 Cornhusker Highway. Pork cooked previous day found being cut on prep table at unsafe temp, product discarded, corrected. Chopped steak on steam table at incorrect temp, reheated to correct temp, corrected. Foods in coolers lack date markings to indicate when 7 days have expired since preparation date.

Texas Roadhouse, 6301 Apples Way. Eleven employees need to renew food handler permits. Several packages of pre-portioned rice kept on point station table were at unsafe temps, rice was discarded. Raw meat in grill station cooler at incorrect temp and butter and cheese in expo station at incorrect temp. Several flies observed in food prep areas.