|Officer snags Christmas snow of a different kind - 3 kilos of cocaine|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Dec. 21, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs Police Sgt. "Buddy" Cleve Williams arrested two woman after finding three bricks of cocaine in a gift-wrapped box in the trunk of their rental car early Tuesday morning.
The cocaine carries a wholesale value of about $18,000 a kilogram. Government sources put the street price at about $100 a gram, meaning the 3 kilograms had a potential value of almost $300,000.
Modesta Garza, 34, of Pflugerville and Patricia Garcia, 24, of Austin were charged at 12:46 a.m. Tuesday with possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine, an aggravated felony offense which carries a penalty of 10 to 99 years or life in prison and an optional fine of up to $100,000.
Williams stopped the eastbound Pontiac Grand Am driven by Garcia at 12:24 a.m. at the 113 mile marker on Interstate 30 east after observing the car "veer to the side of the road and cross over the shoulder stripe" several times. When she changed lanes while passing Cpl. Jason Ricketson, who had stopped a vehicle ahead of them, Williams observed the woman again cross the right shoulder stripe. He then initiated a traffic stop.
Williams said there were discrepancies about the rental of the car and the destination of the occupants.
"I asked for consent to search, which was granted," Williams said.
Before initiating the search of the vehicle, the two women were asked to remove a pit bull/Labrador mix dog from the back seat and wait outside the vehicle holding the animal on a leash.
Meanwhile, Ricketson cleared his traffic stop and arrived to assist Williams in searching the vehicle and watching the occupants. Inside the trunk of the Pontiac, the officers found a duffel bag containing clothing and a wrapped box which one of the women advised was a Christmas gift -- a car cover -- for her sister, Williams said. The officers became suspicious because it "just didn't feel right" weight-wise.
Williams' canine partner, Timmie, gave a positive alert on the box. Officers cut open the box and found three bricks of cocaine tightly wrapped in duct tape.
The cocaine was found to weigh about 6 1/2 pounds, which would carry an overall estimated street value of $291,200 and a wholesale value of $54,000, according to Williams.