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DPS seizures on the rise

By KBell
Sept. 21, 2010 at 4:21 a.m.
Updated Sept. 23, 2010 at 4:23 a.m.

Victoria DPS troopers display a hard day's work after a 16-kilogram cocaine bust in early August. The DPS has had a successful year of seizures, which they attribute to more training and communication within the department. Pictured left to right are troopers Louie Verdeja, Wayne Cipriani and Thomas Arriaga.

HOW MUCH IS 19 KILOS?19.54 kilograms of cocaine is equal to 43 pounds.

Its street value is about $390,000, based on a price of $20,000 per kilo.

Troopers with Victoria's Department of Public Safety seized more than $214,000 worth of cash and 19 kilograms of cocaine within the past week.

That makes 29 money and drug seizures for the department so far this year, said Trooper Thomas Arriaga.

DPS Public Information Officer Gerald Bryant said seizure numbers for last year weren't immediately available, but "It seems like we're definitely getting more this year."

Arriaga and Bryant attributed the increase in seizures to troopers having more training when it comes to conducting traffic stops and interviewing suspects.

"With the troopers in Victoria, when one gets a seizure, the other troopers are looking at everything connected with that seizure and sharing information with one another very, very well," Bryant said. "Every time we get another seizure, it's more education for the troopers in this area."

Arriaga seized $169,770 Monday about 5 p.m. after pulling over a 2004 Ford F-150, traced back to Brownsville, for speeding and failure to signal a lane change at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and Spur 91.

The money, in 18 bundles and wrapped in plastic wrap and black duct tape, was found in an engine compartment after the driver of the vehicle consented to search, Arriaga said.

Sergio Rodriguez Tamayo, 46, who had a Florida driver's license, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.

Arriaga also seized $45,000 in a traffic stop last Wednesday. A 43-year-old McAllen woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering in that case.

The next day, Trooper Henry Schultz seized 19.54 kilograms of cocaine from a Ford F-150 at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and Loop 463.

He arrested Alfredo Torres Jr., 42, of Penitas, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance.

Bryant said compared to the past, when maybe only one trooper had a lot of seizures, the effort is now more collective.

"What we're seeing now is three or four troopers getting several seizures. And they end up helping each other out."

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