20 pounds of meth snatched; 3 held

Published 11:28 am Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bail was denied Wednesday to three immigrants accused of trafficking more than 20 pounds of methamphetamine on Interstate 20 East near Bovina.

Justice Court Judge Jeff Crevitt denied bail for Mardomia Diaz, 36; Leonel Serrano-Piedra, 22; and Transito Monrroy-Garcia, 44, each of whom lists an address as Austin, Texas.

The meth is valued at about $250,000, said Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain.

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The three men are charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Diaz, Piedra and Garcia are in the country illegally and pose a flight risk to their home nation of Mexico, Assistant District Attorney Lane Campbell said, while asking Crevitt to deny bail. The three were in the Warren County Jail this morning.

The men were stopped for a traffic violation about 1:40 p.m. Monday while driving a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser with a Texas license plate, said Trooper Craig Morton of Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol.

“The occupants of the vehicle began to act suspiciously and the story they were telling me did not add up,” Morton said. “After getting consent to search the car, the drugs were found concealed in the car’s front dash.”

The dash contained approximately 21.5 pounds of meth in ice form wrapped in black plastic and separated into four bundles. The drugs have been sent to the state crime lab to be tested and weighed, Morton said.

Ice is a potent form of meth that resembles shards of ice or glass. It is commonly manufactured in large laboratories in Mexico and smuggled into the United States.

The highway patrol, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Drug Enforcement Agency’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force are continuing the investigation, and the case will be presented in May to a Warren County grand jury, Strain said.

During their initial court appearance, the men asked to be assigned an attorney. Serrano-Piedra translated for Monrroy-Garcia, who does not speak English.

Several times, Serrano-Piedra told Crevitt that he was unable to translate court terms into Spanish, and Diaz explained the terms to Monnroy-Garcia.

All three said they understood charges against them.