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Joint effort stops illicit drug traffic
Apr 06, 2004 12:00 am
A recent collaboration by local and federal authorities busted up what was described as an interstate drug operation, with officers confiscating 126 pounds of marijuana – over half of it bound for Wilson County.
The investigation involved officers with both the Lebanon Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff's Department as well as officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, authorities said.
Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen said LPD special operations officers worked along with sheriff's department detectives after receiving information from DEA agents about the suspected delivery of marijuana to various addresses in both Wilson and Davidson counties.
"On March 10, law enforcement officers intercepted five packages of marijuana, totaling 126 pounds," Bowen said. "The shipment was coming from Mission, Texas, and two packages were bound for addresses out in (Wilson) county. One was for a Lebanon address and another for a Davidson County address. The other package was bound for an address that turned out to be undeliverable."
The following day detectives from both local agencies worked with DEA agents to make a "controlled delivery" of each package to its apparently intended address, he said.
The police chief said the package addressed to a Lebanon resident, identified as 26-year-old Adam Alaniz, contained 22 pounds of the illegal weed.
"The suspect came out onto the porch to get the package, then attempted to put it into the trunk of a vehicle when he was arrested by officers," Bowen said.
He said Alaniz was charged with possession of marijana for resale and was freed on bond after his arrest.
A total of four people have been taken into custody so far, according to Bowen, who said more arrests are possible.
"It is still under investigation," Bowen said. "At this point, we feel there may be some additional indictments coming."
Bowen said the marijuana was "elaborately" disguised.
"The box was sealed just like a regular package, but when you opened it up, the marijuana was totally covered in axle grease," he said.
Bowen said the axle grease was an effort to mask the odor of the marijuana by preventing drug-sniffing dogs from "alerting" on the scent of the drugs.
Bowen praised the cooperation of the agencies, saying the joint investigation represents a "big hit" to the local pot trade.
"We do believe this is a substantial hit," Bowen said. "It was a great joint effort between the LPD special ops division, the detectives of the Wilson County Sheriff's Department and the DEA. We are fortunate that the DEA shared this information with us. More than 75 pounds total was bound for Wilson County, that's more than half the shipment."
In addition to the marijuana seizure, officers also confiscated a vehicle used by a suspect and "several thousand dollars in electronic equipment."
LPD Det. Donnie Self was the lead investigator from the LPD for the operation. Bowen said local law enforcement agencies routinely assign a member to area DEA task forces.
"We've had a member assigned to the Middle Tennessee task force for some time and it's always worked out great," he added.