Police recover 6 pounds of cocaine
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

July 19, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs Police once again busted an out-of-town pair after finding three kilograms of cocaine they were smuggling in the gas tank of a Honda Civic.

"I've never seen a compartment like this one," Williams said. "This is a new one for me."

The cocaine he and Cpl. Jason Ricketson discovered Saturday night was in a box welded into the tank.

"They cut a hole in the top of the tank, dropped the box in and JB Welded the tank in. There was no way we could see it just looking at it," Williams said.

Williams stopped the 1996 Honda late Saturday at the 133 mile marker on Interstate 30 after observing the driver, 20-year-old Felipe Emanuel Esquivel of Garland, commit a traffic violation.

As he approached the vehicle occupied by two Hispanic men, Williams "immediately smelled raw gas, like there was a gas leak." When a check of the gas gauge showed the vehicle to be empty, he became suspicious.

At that point, the police sergeant asked and was given permission by Esquivel and the passenger, 17-year-old Guillermo Navarro Brito, who listed no United States address and indicated was a Mexican citizen.

Williams brought in canine partner Timmie to search around the car and contacted Cpl. Jason Ricketson to confirm his suspicions and to act as a backup. Timmie alerted near the lower portion of a car door, resulting in Williams retrieving a fiber optic scope.

A look into the gas tank with the scope revealed a metal container. Ricketson assisted in pulling the cover off the tank to reveal the stash.

Both Brito and Esquivel were taken into custody and the car taken to the police service center, where the tank was "dropped" and 6 pounds, or about 3 kilograms of cocaine were found in the compartment.

Brito and Esquivel were charged with aggravated possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine, estimated to have a street value of a quarter-million dollars, Williams said. Esquivel is also being held on a Dallas County robbery warrant.

Both were arraigned Sunday morning at the county jail, where they remained early Monday morning in lieu of $50,000 each on the possession charge.

This marks the second time in the past week that police have made felony arrests after locating contraband in the fuel tank of a vehicle.

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