63 kilograms of cocaine found in tractor trailer

63 kilograms of cocaine found in tractor trailer

On January 13th at approximately 3:40 p.m., Trooper Mark Self,
stopped a 2005 Freightliner for speeding 85 in a 55 mile per hour
zone on I-40 east bound at the mile marker 419 rest area.  Upon
stopping the suspect vehicle, Trooper Self asked the driver for his
commercial license, log book and medical card and what type of
load he was hauling.  The driver indicated he was hauling produce
to Bronx, New York.  An examination of the driver’s log book
revealed two shipments from California and a shipment from Yuma,
Arizona with a 14 hour layover.  

After noticing that the driver was in violation of the 11 hour driving
time and not taking required sleep, Trooper Self became suspicious
and contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and K-9 Deputy
Steve Arnold.  At this time, a check of the driver’s commercial driver
license (CDL) revealed that he had prior arrests for drug possession
and had been deported to Mexico in 1998.  A short time later,
Deputy Arnold’s K-9 alerted for drugs on the back of the trailer.   
The driver told investigators there were no drugs and consented to
a search.  

Upon questioning the driver and a male passenger, Trooper Self
noticed the passenger began to exhibit nervous behavior and the
subject indicated that there were drugs in the trailer.  Both were
placed in the patrol car while the load could be off-loaded for further
search.  While unloading the trailer in the rest area to inspect the
cargo, Troopers and investigators from the THP Criminal
Investigation Division (CID) uncovered 63 kilos of cocaine in the
fourth pallet.  The drugs carry an estimated street value of $1.5
million dollars.

“This is another example of a Trooper looking beyond the traffic
stop and citation to uncover larger criminal activity,” said Colonel
Mike Walker.  “It’s also another example of local, state and federal
law enforcement working together to get large quantities of illegal
drugs and criminals off our highways.”

Due to the large quantity of drugs seized, both the T.B.I. and D.E.A.
were contacted.  The D.E.A. has adopted the case for charges in
federal court.  Both the driver, 46 year-old Mario Melgar of Moreno
Valley, California and 40 year-old Jose Alberto Aquirre of
Bakersfield, California were transferred from the Jefferson County
Justice Center to Blount County on a federal detainer.

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