A late night traffic stop turns into a multi-million dollar drug bust. It's the largest bust Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith can remember in his 35 years of service. It was found inside an 18-wheeler, just before midnight on Interstate 20 at mile marker 549 -- about five miles west of Lindale.
Smith County authorities confiscated 2,620 pounds of marijuana and 20 kilos of cocaine. Sheriff Smith says the estimated street value of the drugs is between $6 and $7 million dollars.
The men charged with transporting the drugs are Melton McNorris, 55, and Victor Thomas, 38, both from Jackson, MS. Authorities say the men were driving a truck late last night when Smith County canine deputy, John Smith, stopped them for an equipment violation and two traffic violations. Authorities say the driver was going 50 in a 65-mile-per-hour zone.
When Deputy Smith approached the truck he found a very strong odor of raw marijuana coming from the cab. He immediately put "Max," the K-9, to work. Deputy Smith says he was surprised to find a hidden compartment in that part of the cab. It was approximately eight foot tall, eight foot across, and four feet deep.
Sheriff Smith says the drugs were nowhere close to their final destination. "They had picked up in Ft. Worth and were on their way to Jackson, MS," he said. McMorris and Thomas were a fourth of the way to their final destination when this major step in the fight against drugs took place. "It takes a lot of dope off the streets," says Smith. "But when you get down to it, we're not getting one tenth of one percent of what's being transported on this interstate, or up I-69 or Gregg County."
The alleged drug dealers are both charged with aggravated possession of a controlled substance, a first degree felony, and possession of marijuana, a second degree felony. Their bond has been set at $350,000 dollars each. Authorities say the drugs will be destroyed.