A rural Hamilton man who was pulled over in Steuben County with a shipment of heroin and crystal methamphetamine stashed in his pickup remains at large and now faces federal charges.
Rene Rivera, 43, was charged Friday with possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute and a count of conspiring to do the same.
A Steuben County sheriff’s deputy stopped Rivera the night of Feb. 24 on southbound Interstate 69 near Pokagon State Park for a traffic violation, and the deputy’s dog indicated drugs were in the truck, according to authorities.
The sheriff’s department impounded the truck and detained Rivera, but after a couple of hours, officers could not find the drugs, and without proof of a crime, they released Rivera. Two days later, officers discovered the drugs in the truck’s front axle, the sheriff’s department said.
According to a federal court affidavit, officers had to remove a front tire and wheel assembly to reach the axle. In an open space in the axle, they found a 2-foot-long metal cylinder, and inside were packages that contained about a pound of meth and close to 2 pounds of heroin, the affidavit stated.
After the drugs were recovered, a woman who lives with Rivera retrieved the truck, and authorities later arrested her for driving without a license, the affidavit stated.
The woman, Rachel Lynn McMillan, told investigators Rivera was bringing the drugs to Steuben County and that he had made such trips before. She acknowledged accompanying Rivera on some legs of those trips, the affidavit said.
McMillan, 39, told investigators a person came to Indiana and drove Rivera’s truck to the source of the drugs.
McMillan took Rivera and another man, who’s not named in the affidavit, to an airport Feb. 19, so they could fly to pick up the truck and return with the drugs, the affidavit stated.
The man traveling with Rivera was with him when the pickup was stopped in Steuben County, according to the affidavit.
As a result of McMillan’s alleged involvement, she was charged with attempting to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute and conspiring to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute. She was in custody Friday.
Authorities believe Rivera has fled the area. McMillan did not know where he was, saying he left in her vehicle, the affidavit stated.
According to the sheriff’s department, Rivera stands 5-foot-6, weighs about 200 pounds and is Hispanic. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call police.