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Raid Nets Marijuana Stash


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Val Verde County Sheriff's Office deputies, accompanied by state and federal agents, raided a home on the city's east side late Saturday night, arresting one woman and recovering a stash of marijuana that weighed nearly 250 pounds.

"On Saturday night, as a result of an Operation Linebacker investigation, officers conducted a search of a residence, and that search revealed 248.5 pounds of marijuana," Val Verde County Sheriff A. D'Wayne Jernigan said Sunday of the raid.

"Because of monies provided by our governor to pursue Operation Linebacker, we were able to deploy additional personnel along the border to combat crime, such as the smuggling of narcotics," the sheriff added.

Lawmen converged on a mobile home at 1009 E. Adobe St. about 10 p.m. Saturday.

Joining forces in the raid were sheriff's office deputies led by Lt. Larry Pope, who heads the VVSO criminal investigations division, narcotics agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety and federal officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ).

A search of the East Adobe Street property, conducted with the help of a K-9 assigned to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Del Rio Port of Entry, turned up the marijuana in a storage shed behind the home trailer.

Found in the storage shed were two bundles wrapped in large sugar sacks and a box full of smaller marijuana "bricks," packaged in bright orange plastic and secured with packing tape.

Shortly after midnight Saturday, lawmen formally arrested one of the residents of the home trailer, Norely Contreras, 25.

Officers at the scene said Contreras will be charged in federal court with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it.

Contreras, handcuffed and sobbing, was led to a sheriff's office patrol car parked outside her home.

Lawmen allowed Contreras to make several telephone calls to her husband, who was reportedly in Ciudad Acuna, Coah., Mexico at the time of the raid.

During those conversations, Contreras pleaded with her husband to return to the United States and to help her.

Contreras' husband spoke to at least one of the federal agents at the scene, who berated him for not returning home and sharing with his wife the responsibility for the marijuana found there.

As of Monday morning, Contreras' husband remained in Mexico and has not been arrested or charged in connection with the marijuana found at his home.

Pope, in a telephone interview Sunday, touched on the issue of smuggling and border security.

"People don't smuggle marijuana and ******* because they like marijuana and *******; they smuggle it for the money that's involved in smuggling," Pope said.

"I don't believe the people in this case to be terrorists, but smugglers will smuggle anything for money and sometimes don't even know what they are smuggling. There have been several cases that I'm aware of where people were paid to smuggle marijuana, and ******* was hidden inside the marijuana that they were unaware of."

The veteran lawman added, "It's feasible that other things could be hidden as well."

Operation Linebacker was initiated by the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition in the spring of 2005.

The initiative later in 2005 received funds from the state.

Source: Del Rio News-Herald (TX)
Copyright: 2006 Del Rio News-Herald
Contact: Del Rio News Herald
Website: Del Rio News Herald
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