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Patrol officers from the Dilley Police Department were afforded a rare glimpse of the return-traffic business in the illegal narcotics trade last week when they discovered a cache of heavy weaponry in a southbound vehicle.
Three Kalashnikov-47 type assault rifles with magazines, wrapped in black plastic bags and bundled with a box of women’s elasticated girdles concealing at least nine smartphones and other drug traffic-related paraphernalia were recovered from a pickup truck that had been the subject of a routine traffic stop on the interstate Wednesday, January 13.
Dilley PD Sgt. Angel Esparza said he and Sgt. Steven Hernandez and Ofc. Eric Luna were on scene near Milemarker 86 on the interstate shortly after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when a four-door 2013 Chevrolet pickup truck was stopped for a variety of traffic violations.
“We noticed something unusual right away, when we were effecting the traffic stop,” Sgt. Esparza said. “The driver traveled a short distance, as is typical of a vehicle being stopped, but then went a little further and pointed the pickup truck into the roadside brush, going further off the road than would be normal.
“Almost immediately, the front-seat passenger in the truck jumped out of the cab and bolted into the brush,” the sergeant said. “We were unable to find him. He was gone.”
Their suspicions aroused, officers quizzed the driver of the truck, a resident of San Benito, Texas, described as a man in his mid-20s.
“The driver told us that he was taking the truck to its destination for a friend, and that he did not know anything about it or what was in it,” Sgt. Esparza said. “We knew then that we were dealing with a situation that required further investigation.”
Officers asked for and were given consent to examine the vehicle, Esparza said, and quickly discovered the cargo under the back seat.
“These items are consistent with narcotics traffic, going the other way, southbound to the Mexican border,” Sgt. Esparza said. “The assault rifle magazines were empty, but we recognized this for what it was.”
The police department contacted US Homeland Security in Bexar County, which dispatched federal agents to Dilley. The driver was remanded into federal custody and transported out of Frio County.
“Homeland Security also recognized the situation,” the sergeant said. “It isn’t often that our officers get a view of what goes south in exchange for narcotics traffic, much less have an opportunity to intercept it, but this was such a case.
“We regret that we were unable to locate the unidentified suspect who fled on foot,” the sergeant said. “This incident took place at the northern edge of the community, so we hope that local residents remain watchful and notify us immediately if they see any trespassers or suspicious activity.”