Speed bust nets $1.5 million in cocaine

| 1/15/2008

A Tennessee State Trooper stopped one truck last weekend for exceeding the speed limit. He later found cocaine in the driver’s trailer and learned the driver had been deported to Mexico 10 years ago after previous drug arrests.

On Jan. 13, Trooper Mark Self saw a 2005 Freightliner heading eastbound on Interstate 40 at 85 miles per hour, 30 miles above the speed limit. While talking to the driver and a passenger, Self said he learned the driver was hauling produce from California and Arizona to Bronx, NY with a 14-hour layover.

Self noticed the driver was in violation of the federal hours-of-service regs because he did not take required sleep time, according to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Safety. Also, troopers checked the driver’s CDL and learned he’d been deported to Mexico in 1998 after drug possession arrests.

Officers reported that the truck’s passenger “began to exhibit nervous behavior,” before telling Self there were drugs in the trailer.

Troopers found 63 kilos of cocaine in one pallet, hidden among loads of organic lettuce. The drugs’ estimated street value is $1.5 million, the release stated.

The driver, Mario Melgar, 46, of Moreno Valley, CA and passenger Jose Alberto Aquirre, of Bakersfield, CA, were taken to the Jefferson County Justice Center in Tennessee.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer