Traffic stop by sheriff's officer yields a ton of contraband, but it's not the usual kind

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

August 21, 2008 - A routine traffic stop Wednesday night led to the confiscation of about a ton of contraband, but it wasn't the usual marijuana or narcotics.

This time, the officer seized 16 illegal immigrants that were being transported in a mini-van.

Cpl. Dennis Findley stopped a 1999 Chevrolet Astro for following another vehicle too closely near the 113 mile marker of Interstate 30.

The minivan was also pulled over due to the fact that it was weaving in the road, a characteristic of vehicles carrying more than the recommended gross vehicle weight.

The driver, 21-year-old Gustavo Aguirre of Dallas, was initially taken into custody when Findley found he had no license. But even with the proper driving permit, an arrest was imminent when Findley found Aguiree was "in possession of 16 illegal aliens.

Sgt. Victor Cosme assisted Findley in taking Aguirre to jail and in transporting the 16 illegals to the Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center. Aguirre was later charged with felony possession of a controlled substance when officers found a small bag of cocaine in his wallet during booking procedures.

The county jail is already a crowded place, with the daily inmate count well over the capacity of 98 for many weeks now -- the jail held 113 prisoners this morning -- and adding another 16 would have made conditions even more crowded.

Fortunately, the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office has a good working relationship with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which picks up illegal immigrants detained locally. The 16 picked up Wednesday night were placed in the sally port at the sheriff's office, and ICE agents were able to pick them up in short order, officers said.

The sheriff's office is expected to apply for forfeiture of the Chevrolet van.

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