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Boxes of pot found in truck of vegetables

[4/02/03]Marijuana with a street value of about $450,000 and hidden in boxes of vegetables was confiscated Tuesday when a tractor-trailer on a cross-country trip was inspected on Interstate 20 in Warren County.

The driver was being held for federal authorities this morning.

Jorge A. Rodriguez, 29, 7870 Hialeah, Fla., was jailed, accused of possession of 225 pounds of marijuana, Mississippi Department of Transportation Master Sgt. Tex Jones said.

“Several indicators the driver had led us to call a K-9 from the MHP,” Jones said, referring to Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper Scott Henley and his partner, Roi. At about 11:30 a.m., the K-9 team detected the marijuana among a load of produce that included broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and carrots, and manifests said the truck was headed from Bakersfield, Calif., to Miami, Jones said. The arrest was made at the I-20 East weigh station.

Rodriguez, a Cuban national who was legally exiled in the United States, communicated with authorities in Spanish through an interpreter called to the scene by Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents, Jones said.

Rodriguez will face federal Drug Enforcement Agency charges for the marijuana possession, Jones said. In addition, cocaine apparently for the driver’s personal use was also found in the truck, and he is expected to face separate charges for possessing that drug, Jones said.

In a separate marijuana seizure in the same area of Interstate 20 early this morning, about 10 pounds of marijuana was seized and two residents of the Charlotte, N.C., area were arrested after a traffic stop about 2:10 a.m., Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

William Saunders, 39, 6426 Lake Forest Drive, Charlotte, and Michael Moore, 27, 2251 Mancke, Rock Hill, S.C., were charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after being stopped traveling east near Flowers in eastern Warren County, Warren County Jail records show. Both remained in the jail this morning without bond, records showed.

The marijuana was packaged in garbage bags in the trunk of the car. The traffic stop was for careless driving and the driver, Saunders, was also charged with that misdemeanor, records show.

Records show Deputies Brad Redditt, Mike Marshall and Adrian Price participated in the arrest. Pace said investigation into the seizure will continue, with Detective Todd Dykes in charge.