Traffic Stop Puts Skids on Big Drug Drop!

Traffic Stop Puts Skids on Big Drug Drop!
Posted by FoM on July 01, 1999 at 08:43:12 PT
By Rick López Staff Writer
Source: Digital Basin
ODESSA Court officials on Wednesday denied setting bond for an Odessa man arrested in connection with a 150-pound marijuana bust, which at its height involved a two-hour manhunt near McKinney Park.
Michael Angelo Gonzales, 20, will remain in the Midland County jail after he was arrested on possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a federal offense. Court officials said that Gonzales is scheduled for another detention hearing in U.S. Magistrate Court next week.Charges filed against Gonzales stem from a Tuesday morning traffic stop that occurred on Interstate 20 in Midland. State Trooper Carlos Ortiz, the head of the Department of Public Safety narcotics unit in Midland, stopped Gonzales for driving at 77 mph on the roadway.Ortiz said the suspect seemed nervous during the traffic stop. After obeying the officer’s signal to pull over, Gonzales walked over to Ortiz with his license and paperwork in his hand. In most traffic stops, drivers wait for officers to approach their vehicle, Ortiz said.As the trooper got closer to the vehicle — an acquaintance’s late-model Ford Explorer — Gonzales became more nervous, Ortiz said.“There was something in that vehicle he didn’t want me to see,” Ortiz said. “He was pretty fast at giving me everything I asked for.”As he got within a few feet of the vehicle, Ortiz began to notice a strong odor of marijuana.“It overwhelmed me,” he said. Ortiz got Gonzales’ consent to search the vehicle and found three bags in the back seat with large marijuana bricks. Each brick weighed about 50 pounds, he said.“That’s about the size of the bricks that backpackers smuggle in from Mexico,” Ortiz said. The cache, he said, has an estimated street value of $81,000.Gonzales told authorities that he was going to be paid $10,000 to drive the stash from Fort Stockton to Odessa, Ortiz said.Gonzales cooperated with authorities by telling them he was supposed to deliver the bricks to McKinney Park in Odessa and then drive away. Troopers, FBI agents and other law enforcement agencies set up surveillance at the park and sent Gonzales and an undercover officer to carry out the duty.But as Gonzales unloaded the marijuana, he bolted off with the three bags under his arm. He dropped a couple of them during his escape. Almost two hours later, he was caught in a cluster of businesses off Interstate 20 in Ector County. “He ran through all those wooden trails and weeds. We’re still wondering what he was thinking,” Ortiz said. “It’s not like we weren’t going to find him. He gave us all his information, like his address and phone number.”The suspect later told authorities that he was afraid the drug dealers who were expecting the delivery were going to kill him, Ortiz said.At 5 p.m. that day, authorities could still not find one bag of marijuana. A K-9 handler with the Odessa Police Department found the brick under a pile of weeds in the park.Using information that Gonzales had given them, authorities searched three homes in Odessa that evening. “We found $4,500 in one of the houses,” Ortiz said. “We think there’s some tie into this case.”Ortiz said the case is still under investigation, but declined to comment further. Authorities declined to charge Gonzales with evading detention, but urged the court not to release the man on bond because his escape proves he’s a flight risk.
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: