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How a McDonald’s receipt crippled an elite drug-fighting team

Narcotics Detective Kyle Willett made the 10-minute drive to a McDonald’s drive-thru for sweet tea and cheeseburgers before returning to work — and doing something no one expected.
Alone in his white Chevrolet Tahoe — outside the UPS global shipping hub where he worked with an elite task force to intercept drug shipments — Willett tore the packing tape off a box, pried open a metal safe and stole piles of cash totaling about $40,000.But the Louisville Metro Police veteran, well trained in exposing criminals’ missteps, made an elementary mistake of his own.He used his credit card for the $4.76 McDonald’s meal and then forgot to remove the receipt from the fast-food bag he crumpled and stuffed inside the box before sending the package on its path to Oakland, California. Willett didn’t know that a West Coast drug interdiction task force anxiously awaited its delivery. A judge had already signed a search warrant to allow investigators to open the package, as it was expected to contain valuable evidence.The box should have helped investigators snag a drug trafficker. Instead, it netted a cop. It also exposed questionable practices by two other detectives and for 19 months sidelined a task force charged with interrupting a major drug pipeline during the nation’s worst drug crisis — blamed for more than 400 deaths in Louisville last year.”We were missing a lot of drugs with this task force not up and running,” said Russell Coleman, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

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