Eastern Idaho authorities are concerned that drug dealing has found a solid foothold in the relatively safe rural area.

"The pressure is on in the big cities, and they (dealers) know they have a safe haven here," Madison County Sheriff Lionel Coon said.Five area residents were indicted earlier this month on charges of delivery or conspiracy to deliver cocaine. The defendants are Isabel Sanchez, 43, his wife, Marie, 33, both of Rexburg; Jose Antonio Quintero, 28, of Shelley; Ernest Cruz, 33, St. Anthony; and Emelio Arreguin, 21, Rexburg.

Arreguin remains at large.

It was the second major drug bust in Rexburg in two years. In 1986, federal and local authorities seized $1.6 million worth of cocaine and black-tar heroin during a raid at the Rexburg-Madison County Airport.

Several other arrests have been made involving a total of $100,000 worth of cocaine. And the defense attorney for Barry Searcy blamed the slaying last year of an Ashton woman by Searcy on his addiction to cocaine.

"It's bad," said Herb Gee, a member of the Upper Valley Drug Task Force and a Madison County deputy sheriff.

Officials believe the drugs are smuggled in from Mexico to California, then spread to rural areas in the West. Koon said the five indictments will put a dent in the local cocaine traffic.