The dope connection – part warm, part fuzzy
By LeaAnne Klentzman
That warm safe feeling comes when cops announce, as the Fort Bend Narcotics Task Force did this week, that they have seized just shy of a quarter of a million in cash and around 11 kilos of cocaine and some 5.5 kilos of heroin in one week working interdiction along the Highway 59 corridor.
According to Sheriff’s spokesman Bob Haenel, as the Task Force worked highway interdiction they “constructed” several stops for traffic violations. Those targeted, according to Haenel, were “drug traffickers and money launderers.” Haenel said officers stopped a minivan near Kendleton headed southbound on Monday, May 5, and seized $96,110 of U.S. currency secreted inside the body panels of the minivan. That was reportedly discovered during a roadside investigation.
Jose Alfonso Contreras-Salgado, 54, of Reynosa, Mexico, was arrested and booked into the county jail for Money Laundering, according to Haenel. A couple of days later, a passenger car traveling south on 59 was stopped near Cottonwood in Rosenberg. During that “roadside investigation” another $125,610 of U.S. currency was discovered hidden inside front seats of the vehicle. Haenel said, “Edelmiro Perez Jr., 48, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested and booked into the Fort Bend County Jail on second degree charges of Money Laundering and third degree charges of Unlawful Use of a Criminal Instrument.”
Later that same Wednesday the Task Force snagged 24.56 pounds (11.16 kilos) of cocaine in another roadside investigation discovered “concealed in a fabricated compartment inside the frame of the vehicle”, according to Haenel. That stop was also on U.S. 59 at Isleib Road in Beasley. The cocaine seized has a reported street value of approximately $334,800. In this case Jeanie Burciaga, 38, and Adrian Martinez, 38, both of Brownsville, Texas, were arrested and booked into the Fort Bend County Jail on charges of Manufacturing/Delivery of a Controlled Substance and Unlawful Use of a Criminal Instrument.
The following day, Sunday, a car was stopped on US 59 near Kirkwood and during that roadside investigation 12.2 pounds (5.5 kilos) of heroin was found hidden inside the transfer case of the vehicle, said Haenel. The heroin reportedly has a street value of about $280,000. Miguel Antonio Carranza, 34, of Webster, Texas, was arrested and with Manufacturing/Delivery of a Controlled Substance.
Now that the public has the warm part; here’s a look into the fuzzy. Seldom are these seizures the result of “random” traffic stops as purported. Nor is the seized contraband “randomly” found inside those car parts. Yes, the drugs or cash are recovered; however to imply it was routine or just a traffic stop could make the link to the truth – fuzzy. The fuzzy factor can and often leads to a reduction or dismissal of charges. More often than not the officers affiliated with these Task Forces know what vehicle to stop and where to find the contraband.
Fort Bend County Task Force leader Lt. Josh Dale said, “This past week’s results are a testament of what a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional cooperative approach of enhanced drug enforcement does for the citizens of Fort Bend County. The credit goes to all the participating agencies in the task force.”
At press time, only Mexican resident Jose Congreras-Salgado had posted bond and been released from jail. Edelmiro Perez, Jr., Jeanie Burciaga, Adrian Martinez, and Miguel Carranza, all remained in the custody.
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