07/02/06 — Fifty pounds of marijuana seized

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Fifty pounds of marijuana seized

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 2, 2006 2:03 AM

A routine traffic stop on U.S. 70 West on Friday led to the discovery of an estimated $117,600 worth of marijuana in a sport utility vehicle.

Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Maxwell, a retired state Highway Patrol sergeant, spotted the 1995 Isuzu Trooper following a company tractor-trailer truck too closely.

The SUV then pulled into a fruit stand, and the driver bought fruit and drove away. When Maxwell, a member of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team, stopped the SUV, he also noted that the registration, a temporary Georgia plate, could be invalid.

Maxwell searched the vehicle and found 49 pounds of marijuana in small packages.

"It's good to get this much dope off the streets," Sheriff Carey Winders said. "We ruined someone's Fourth of July."

The driver and his passenger, both Hispanic men, were not immediately identified. They were being interviewed at mid-day.

Winders did not know from where they had come but said they were going to Sanford.

The other ACE Team members joined Maxwell in the case. Sgt. Chris Worth, the commander, backed up Maxwell during the stop. Deputy Randy Thompson responded in case a search dog were needed, and Cpl. Michael Cox helped transport the prisoner.

The stop came about a month after the discovery of a several large marijuana-growing operations in western Wayne County. More than 15,000 plants were found in one large secluded plot off Blackjack Church Road and four smaller ones off Ferry Bridge Road. The had an estimated street value of more than $36 million.