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More than $1 million worth of marijuana hidden among oranges, seized by DPS

By KBell
March 2, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2011 at 9:02 p.m.

Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers in Wharton County seized more than $1.7 million worth of marijuana hidden among a trailer of oranges in one of the department's two recent drug seizures.

The first happened at 9:22 p.m. Sunday on northbound U.S. Highway 59 at the state Highway 71 exit when an 18-wheeler was pulled over, said DPS communications operator John Adkison.

Troopers found 194 bundles, or 4,253 pounds, of marijuana hidden among oranges, Adkison said. The street value of the marijuana is $1.78 million.

Felix Garcia Jr., 28, of Rio Grande City, was arrested on suspicion of felony manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance. Garcia was traveling from Weslaco to Houston, Adkison said.

Garcia was taken to Wharton County Jail, where he remains in custody in lieu of a $500,000 bond, according to a jail deputy.

At 4:17 p.m. on Tuesday, Trooper Alfred Ochoa pulled over a Ford pickup towing a utility trailer on northbound U.S. Highway 59 just south of the Wharton Airport, Adkison said. The driver, 69-year-old Robert Braun, displayed several signs of nervousness and had an implausible reason for the trip, Adkison said.

Braun, of Mission, refused consent to search. A K-9 conducted a free-air search of the vehicle and gave a positive alert, Adkison said.

Troopers subsequently found 34 bundles of marijuana hidden inside an external fuel tank and tool box. The 34 pounds of marijuana has a street value of $47,460, Adkison said.

Braun was arrested on suspicion of felony manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance.

Braun posted a $100,000 bond to leave Wharton County Jail Wednesday, the deputy said.

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