The two biggest marijuana seizures in Ohio State Highway Patrol history happened in Preble County after troopers found about 2,330 pounds of the drug Saturday afternoon.
State troopers stopped a 2014 Ford U-Haul truck with Arizona registration for following too close. After a Preble County Sheriff’s deputy K-9 alerted to the vehicle, troopers located about $11.6 million worth of marijuana packaged in 84 bundles.
The Patrol’s biggest marijuana seizure happened in 2005 when a state highway patrol stop in Preble County netted 3,188 pounds of marijuana.
In Saturday’s drug bust, Mario Arnold Mendoza, 29, was the driver of the U-Haul truck and Hector Andres Olea-Castro, 30, was the passenger, according to Preble County Municipal Court documents. Both men were “overly nervous for the reason for the stop, their stories were not consistent and their reason for the trip was unbelievable,” according to court documents.
Court documents also revealed that the rental vehicle was designated for California use only being operated outside of contract. “After speaking with both occupants, it was determined that neither one had a valid driver’s license,” said Lt. Jon Payer of the OSHP’s Piqua Post.
Mendoza, of Port Arthur, Texas, and Olea-Castro, of Tijuana, Mexico, are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning in municipal court for possession of marijuana and possessing criminal tools. The drug charges are second-degree felonies while the criminal tools are fifth-degree felonies. A court official said one of the men speaks little English and needs an interpreter. Both are being housed in the Preble County Jail in Eaton.
If convicted, both men could face up to eight years in prison and up to a $7,500 fine, according to an OSHP release.
The contraband was located in the front of the storage area behind some junk furniture and mattresses. Court documents said there was a “heavy odor of masking agents and air fresheners, combined with the raw odor of marijuana.”
The pair did not resist while being taken into custody. “There was no incident,” Payer said. “They were very upset, obviously; they knew what they were doing. They posed no problems.”
OSHP officials said the marijuana taken to the agency’s crime lab in Columbus.
The June 2005 marijuana seizure in Preble County was loaded in California and was to be taken to Columbus and ultimately to Charleroi, Penn. That case ultimately was prosecuted in federal court, though one of those two defendants did not go to trial.
Court documents show Preble County prosecutors dismissed charges against Alberto J. Vega and Juan Carlos Munoz in early 2006. Vega — who claimed no knowledge of the marijuana — did not face prosecution since Munoz would not testify against him, according to court records.
Munoz was federally prosecuted in United States District Court in Phoenix, Ariz. as part of a four-person conspiracy alleged to distribute marijuana. In 2007, Munoz reached a plea deal to serve four years in federal prison.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.