An operation by state narcotics agents that tracked a shipment of high-grade marijuana from Northern California led police to a suburban Kentucky house and two National Football League players, law enforcement authorities said.
Cincinnati Bengals teammates Jerome Simpson and Anthony Collins, both 25, were at Simpson’s home in Crestview Hills, Ky., yesterday when a package allegedly containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana arrived at the house in what authorities called a controlled delivery.
A third person, Aleen Smith, allegedly signed for the package, which was sent from Eureka, Calif., and intercepted in Sacramento, authorities said. All three were questioned at the residence, but no arrests were made at the time.
Inside the home, police allegedly found six more pounds of marijuana, other empty parcels, scales and packaging material.
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“The house was set up as a potential distribution network,” said Tommy LaNier, head of the National Marijuana Initiative, a group that is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and helps coordinate marijuana enforcement operations around the United States.
“They had it all set up to receive supplies of high-grade marijuana from Northern California, and from there, it was being distributed from that residence,” he said.
All the packages were sent from a pot-producing area of Northern California known as the "Emerald Triangle," LaNier said.
In recent years, drug agents have stepped up efforts to intercept California-grown pot being shipped out of state by drug-trafficking organizations seeking higher profits.
Michelle Gregory, spokeswoman for the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, said the operation was initiated by a special marijuana task force after agents discovered a suspicious package at a commercial sorting facility in Sacramento.
The agents then alerted law enforcement in Kentucky, who intercepted the package and monitored its delivery. Barb Schempf, spokeswoman for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, confirmed that airport police participated in the controlled delivery but declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Gregory confirmed that Simpson and Collins were detained and interviewed at the residence after the package was delivered. She said federal prosecutors from California were investigating in addition to state and local law enforcement in Kentucky.
Kenton County, Ky., prosecutor Rob Sanders, speaking through an office employee, declined to comment.
Simpson, a wide receiver, and Collins, an offensive lineman, are both in their fourth season. Simpson is averaging 22.5 yards per catch through the first two games of the season. The Bengals host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said he had heard rumors of the bust but had no further comment.
“There’s nothing of substance in the development of rumors that we’re aware of,” he said. “There’s nothing to hang a hat on at this point.”
Calls to Simpson’s agent and the NFL commissioner’s office were not immediately returned.
In response to questions posted on his Twitter account last night that he’d been arrested, Simpson replied, “100% rumor.”