Marijuana Bust On Marshall Highway - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/8/06-Longview

Marijuana Bust On Marshall Highway

       An unusual traffic stop in Harrison County ends with a major East Texas drug bust. Yesterday, DPS troopers pulled over a driver on Highway 59 in Harrison County for going too slow. When they searched the vehicle, they discovered more than 118 pounds of marijuana. Drug trafficking is something officers have gotten accustomed to on Highway 59.

    "It is very common, US 59 is a major highway that runs from south Texas to the northern states and it's basically a straight shot" said Harrison County Highway Patrol Sergeant Terance Helton.

    "They don't want to stop for a bunch of red lights, they like to stay on the major freeways where they can keep moving" said sergeant Steve Ashmore or the Harrison County Sheriff's Office.

    Around 4 yesterday, deputies stopped 56 year old Charles Dunklin of Illinois heading north on 59. Tonight, he's in the Harrison County Jail, charged with possessing these bales of marijuana, 118 pounds in all. Most of Highway 59 is divided highway and very remote something investigators say drug smugglers like, and over the years they've seen them smuggle in anything from cardboard boxes to luggage to even bails of hay. 59 run's from Mexico to the Midwest, and officers say anything could be carrying drugs.

    "You're liable to have a truckload of produce and have the drugs mixed in with that, it could be legitimate freight and it's easy to stick a couple hundred pounds of dope with a legitimate load of freight" Ashmore says.

    But there are indicators. Dunklin wasn't driving fast or recklessly, he slowed down so much he became a traffic hazard, and that's why he was stopped. Officers say there is no profile, it could be anyone.

    "They look no different from anyone else" said Helton.

   DPS  troopers say the marijuana has an estimated street value of over 175-thousand dollars.    Bob Hallmark, Reporting bhallmark@kltv.com

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