The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit seized 24 kilos — or more than 52.8 pounds — of cocaine and $3,000 cash following a traffic stop on Interstate 65 north of Bay Minette on Wednesday evening. Houston, Texas residents Jose Solis and Maricela Gonzalez were arrested and charged with drug trafficking.
Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said investigators believe the drugs were en route to the eastern seaboard, but they are not sure of the exact destination. Persons, charged with trafficking more than 10 kilos of cocaine, could face life in prison without parole.
“At this time we do believe these individuals were transporting the narcotics,” Mack said. “What is still under investigation is their level of involvement.”The drugs, 24 kilos of “high quality” cocaine, have an estimated street value of $870,000. Each block of wrapped cocaine is worth about $30,000 on the street. Mack said the cocaine could have been sold to hundreds of people had it not been seized.
Investigators stopped the pair after observing the silver Dodge Grand Caravan minivan they were driving was missing a headlight during an evening rain event. The drugs were found in an aftermarket modified compartment in the back of the van, Mack said.
According to Mack, the drugs are considered “high quality” because of the way they are packaged. The cocaine is tightly double wrapped, with a vacuum seal, which Mack said keeps the aroma from being easily detected.
“This was not a rookie operation,” Mack said. “We feel it could be tied back to a major operation. At least we know that this particular cocaine is not going out into the population.”
Mack said Interstates 10 and 65 are major drug corridors for nationwide distribution. Mack said further investigation could bring federal and homeland security charges against Solis and Gonzalez.