An Ohio man expected the gun safe he ordered online to be empty, police said.
But instead, he found $425,000-worth of tightly wrapped marijuana bricks inside.
"I've been in law enforcement for 47 years and I've never seen anything like this," Shelby County, Ohio, Sheriff John L. Lenhart said. "It's quite effective if you think about it: wrapped airtight to withstand high temperatures. Drug-sniffing dogs probably couldn't smell it."
It turned out the gun safes were manufactured by Champion Safe Co. in Nogales, Mexico, packaged by local inmates and shipped north, police said.
"Someplace between Mexico and the warehouse in Northern Ohio, the drugs got mixed up and put in the wrong safe and got delivered to the wrong person," Lenhart said.
Police hope to question a driver for Conway Inc., the truck company they said Champion hired to move the 25 to 30 gun safes to a warehouse in Ohio for local distribution. But they have not been able to find the driver, officials said.
"Not only are we looking for him," Lenhart said, "but the bad guys are, too."
That could be a problem for whoever screwed up the shipment, police said, but not for the anonymous northern Ohio man who, in early June, found 10 bales of pot tightly bound inside the safe he had ordered for $1,700. Police believe the man who got the 1,000-pound, 6-foot-tall safe had nothing to do with the drug shipment and was only expecting to find an empty space where he could store 24 long rifles and a dozen shotguns.
The shipping method has drawn the interest of the DEA because evidence suggests that this may not be the first time sealed gun safes have been used as smuggling portals, police said.
"You just spent $1,700 to get marijuana delivered wherever you want," said Shelby County Chief Deputy Jim Frye. "That's pretty cheap."
Police will keep the case open for an extended period of time, focusing on notifying jurisdictions that could have a hand in solving the case.