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Record marijuana bust nets 22,000 pounds

Thursday, June 02, 2011
Marijuana seizure

Tons of marijuana is off the streets in a major drug bust that has been months in the making. The smugglers method of moving the drugs was tanker trucks.

Investigators say the trucks moved millions of dollars worth of marijuana in plain sight on freeways. It all started with a bust in south Texas, which led to two Houston-bound tanker trucks full of pot being stopped in El Campo.

So far, three people have been arrested in connection with this massive drug smuggling operation. Federal investigators say it's one of the largest drug seizures they have ever made during a holiday weekend. It may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Federal investigators hit the jackpot -- a record 22,000 pounds of marijuana worth $10 million seized during an elaborate international drug-smuggling operation. Authorities say the drugs were hidden deep inside two tanker trunks.

"These tankers were rigged so that if you tested them, some product or air would flow out of them so law enforcement wouldn't get suspicious," explained Michael Booker, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

While the trucks carrying the marijuana look like they belong to a legitimate Mexican gas transport company, authorities say they are clones. According to court documents, "it appeared they had been sprayed with mud to appear dirty."

Booker said, "Make it look like they had gone on dirt roads, but unfortunately the way they put the mud on they didn't muddy up any of the actual mud flaps. So the mud flaps were clean, which also allowed us to have some suspicion."

Three people, two drivers and a third person hired to be a lookout, were arrested after a six-month investigation. According to court documents one of the alleged drivers was supposed to get paid $10,000 and another stated he was to receive $15,000.

"Summer is heating up and so is the narcotics transportation business," said Booker. "They are trying to get their product in to move it, to make a profit, and obviously we are doing our best to stop that."

It's unclear if this drug-smuggling operation is connected to the Mexican drug cartels. Authorities tell us they haven't been able to connect all the dots yet. They are anticipating more arrests.

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