Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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March 20, 2010

Simple sound leads to drug bust

Pauls Valley — A simple sound that wasn’t right led one Garvin County deputy to finding several concealed packages of marijuana during what was at first believed to be a routine traffic stop early Friday morning.

The sound heard by Deputy Jeff Poteet was a “thud” and not an echo in one of two air compressors placed in the back of a pickup truck.

That one seemingly simple difference led to Poteet learning about 77 pounds of the illegal drug was stashed away inside, which resulted in the arrest of the vehicle’s three occupants on drug trafficking complaints.

“Jeff didn’t hear an echo sound you usually do when there’s nothing in there,” Sheriff Steve Brooks said about the compressor.

“He heard a thud that told him there was something inside and he needed to investigate further.”

In the end a trio of Oklahoma City residents — Marcelino Rosales, 51, Omer White, 60, and Martin Espinoza, 26 — were all taken into custody and booked into the county jail here.

Brooks stresses the two factors that led to the big bust were the patrol work of Poteet in the early morning hours and his K-9 dog Beny.

It was Poteet’s patrol that allowed him to come across a vehicle driving erratically, while it was Beny who alerted to the presence of illegal narcotics in the suspects’ truck, Brooks said.

Ironically enough it was only a couple of weeks ago when the team of Poteet and Beny upgraded their certification to the national level.

As for the find, Brooks said a number of 2-foot long bricks of marijuana wrapped in brown paper and plastic were inside the air compressor.

“This was a professional packaging system with the marijuana in tightly compacted bricks,” he said.

Long before the drug bust occurred Poteet, accompanied by Beny, had just finished a patrol throughout much of the western part of the county and was headed to the east side when he spotted a truck driving down the very center of the two northbound lanes on Interstate 35 in far southern Garvin County.

At first the deputy thought it might be a case of drunk driving. After briefly speaking with the stopped occupants he changed his mind.

“He said there were some indications that something wasn’t quite right,” Brooks said, while not disclosing any specifics.

It was Beny who next alerted on the truck’s cab, where a small amount of marijuana was later found. The dog’s most excited alert came on a compressor in the back. Using a small scope Poteet was able to look inside and see the hidden marijuana bricks.

Brooks added each of the three suspects arrested have been accused of illegal drug activity before.

“They have a criminal history. They’ve done this before,” he said.

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