They tell police to trust their instincts and in this case it turned into a huge payoff – more than a ton of marijuana.
At a truck stop in Parker County, Texas, an officer observed what he thought were funny looking welds on a piece of road equipment. Called a “road rake” the equipment was being transported on a flatbed truck.
The road rake consists of several steel rollers laid end to end – the entire width of a road. The rollers are about 2 ½ feet in diameter and the whole rake is rolled down a road to smooth newly laid gravel. The equipment is common in the industry and usually wouldn’t have caught anyone’s attention. This time was different.
Suspicious, the Sheriff’s Deputy called for a drug dog.
The dog alerted on the equipment and then came the problem of how to open up what amounted to welded steel drums, fifteen of them, end to end. The answer came by way of the local fire department who had the skills to cut into the drums. What they found was more than a ton of marijuana that had been hydraulically pressed into each drum.
According to news reports, police said, “That stuff was packed so tight in there, under pressure, that you can’t even hardly scratch it.”
Officers estimated the street value of the haul at more than seven million dollars. The load had come from Mexico and already cleared customs inspection at El Paso. Police do not believe the driver, an independent trucker, knew what he was carrying.
In this case, it was a bit of luck and a quality policeman’s hunch that got the drugs. The investigation is continuing, and it is likely the method has already been used successfully in the past.
One reason it is hard to detect this kind of smuggling is that the weed is packed so tightly, it can’t be distinguished from filler on an x-ray and because welding would normally set marijuana on fire, so customs officials might not think to look inside such an item. In most cases, only a small package would be placed in such a large container, and this would be obvious on x-ray or with a density checker.