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A Laredo man was taken into custody near Encinal on Saturday, May 7, after a routine traffic stop revealed he was under the influence of drugs and was carrying an automatic weapon.
Encinal police working with the Texas Highway Patrol said a traffic stop was effected shortly after 3:30 p.m. when the driver of a black Chrysler 300 sedan was seen committing a traffic violation. Officers reported that the man appeared to act erratically during the subsequent roadside interview. They also noticed what appeared to be a quantity of marijuana in plain view inside the car.
The driver has been identified as 20-year-old Cristian J. Flores of Laredo.
Officers further examined the vehicle and discovered an assault rifle that had been partly concealed in a sweater and stored in the car’s truck. Encinal police have indicated the weapon was an AK-47.
“We would like to commend the watchful efforts of our officers that day for taking this weapon off the streets and out of the wrong hands,” a representative from the Encinal PD said. “Also, thank you to the DPS troopers for the assistance on this case.”
The incident occurred along a stretch of IH-35 that has seen a marked increase in traffic in recent years. Operation Lone Star, ordered by the Texas governor last year, has committed hundreds of additional Highway Patrol troopers and Texas Army National Guardsmen to the border region, increasing traffic enforcement and the interception of smugglers transporting narcotics, firearms, currency, and undocumented immigrants.
A recent study conducted by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) showed that the stretch of IH-35 between Laredo and San Antonio also accommodates between four and five thousand commuters a day.
The Encinal PD acknowledged in a prepared statement on last week’s case that it is a small law enforcement agency but also noted that its officers are vigilant in the rural highwayside community and on the busy stretch of interstate “to ensure the safety of those in their community.”