SALMON Idaho (Reuters) - Authorities in Idaho are seeking a truck driver who held 37,000 pounds of frozen chicken for ransom demanding money for expenses before he let it rot at a truck stop in Montana where it is releasing putrid odors and liquids, police said on Thursday.
The refrigerated semi-trailer containing the chicken was to arrive in Washington state last month. The shipment was arranged by an Idaho trucking firm that got into a dispute with its driver, who tried to extort money to deliver the load before abandoning it, said Joe Ramirez, detective sergeant with the police department in Nampa, Idaho.
Noxious fumes and juices oozing from the semi-trailer – detached from the tractor being sought as a stolen vehicle – were reported to authorities in Missoula earlier this week during a warming trend in which temperatures climbed into the 80s.
An inspection of the trailer by the Missoula City-County Health Department revealed “it was a little smelly,” but the chicken was not a hazard since no one was seeking to salvage it for food, said Alisha Johnson, an environmental health specialist with the agency.
The load, once valued at $80,000, could be towed to a landfill for disposal as early as Friday, she said.
It was unclear how long the chicken was parked at the truck stop west of Missoula before the driver flew the coop.
Dixie River Freight in Nampa reported the rig missing on Aug. 27 and stolen in early September when the driver went “totally off the radar” after repeatedly demanding his employers transfer funds into his account to pay for fuel and other transport costs, Ramirez said.
The company told police the driver said at one point he would not deliver the load as planned to Kent, Washington, unless it came up with a certain amount of money, which Ramirez said could be seen as “technically, extortion.” Police did not say how much money he was demanding.
Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney