Authorities in a Texas community stumbled onto a massive shipment of cocaine being smuggled inside a golf bag during a traffic stop Thursday.
Officers with the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department pulled over a vehicle in Harlingen at the intersection of Bass Boulevard and West Business 83 Thursday evening for a routine violation. Officers searched the car after becoming suspicious, finding roughly 49 pounds of cocaine stashed inside a golf bag and an ice cooler, reports KVEO.
Police arrested driver Juan Antonio Montes Cornejo, a Mexican national, who faces narcotics trafficking charges that could put him in prison for up to 99 years. (RELATED: Global Opium And Cocaine Production Has Never Been Higher)
“There are approximately about 49 pounds of coke,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said at a press conference Friday, according to KVEO. “The total value on something like that, it varies a little bit, but it would have been close to about $500,000 worth of cocaine seized.”
Officials suspect the narcotics were being trafficked out of the Rio Grande Valley region for broader distribution. Authorities are holding Cornejo at the Cameron County Jail.
Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of traffickers, however, authorities are stepping up efforts to interdict the dangerous substances, particularly opioids.
Opioid seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents nearly doubled from 579 pounds in 2013 to 1,135 pounds in 2017, a recent report from Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill shows.
Heroin continues to be the most common opioid coming across the border, with seizures increasing by 73 percent in 2017 to 662 pounds. Seizures of fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, rose by 72 percent in 2017.
Cocaine is increasingly being linked to drug overdose deaths in the U.S. due to dealers cutting supplies with synthetic opioids. Cocaine deaths spiked by 52 percent nationally between 2015 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following many years of relatively stable numbers.
Officials estimated cocaine is now killing about 13,000 Americans each year, up from 6,700 in 2015.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact email@example.com.