By Robb Hays - email
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Eighteen law enforcement officers were taken to a New Orleans area hospital Friday morning after some of them became sick while searching an 18-wheeler, a state police spokesman said.
Authorities said pesticide inside the truck caused the illnesses. All of the victims were treated from a hospital and released by early Friday afternoon in good condition, investigators said.
Cocaine was also found in the truck, authorities said. The trailer was loaded with boxes of limes. Authorities believe the pesticide might have been used as part of the lime production.
The incident forced authorities to seal off Louisiana State Police Troop B in Kenner and the emergency room at the hospital where the victims were taken.
All of the victims were said to be alert and in stable condition. The victims included several state troopers and at least two federal agents, authorities said.
Not all of the 18 people who were hospitalized were exposed. The officers who drove those exposed to a hospital were also quarantined as a precaution.
The victims were taken to East Jefferson Hospital in Metairie. The hospital's emergency room was closed for several hours Friday while authorities worked to identify the substance. The emergency room reopened early Friday afternoon.
Emergency responders said the situation was contained and there was no threat to the public.
Troopers stopped the driver of the truck Friday morning and received consent to search the truck, said Lt. Doug Cain. The truck was then taken to Troop B to be searched.
"The trooper on the scene identified a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine," Cain said. "They began to search the remainder of the trailer when the troopers and agents began to get nauseous."
The driver of the truck and a passenger were both charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, authorities said. Their names were not immediately released.