Traffic stop near North East nets 69 pounds of ‘pot,’ one arrest
NORTH EAST — A traffic stop on Interstate 95 near North East led to investigators confiscating nearly 70 pounds of suspect marijuana with an estimated street value of $140,000 and making one arrest, according to Cecil County District Court records.
The investigation started at approximately 10:20 a.m. on Wednesday, when Mar yland State Police Sgt. Conner stopped a 2020 Hyundai Tuscon driven by the suspect, Christian A. VenturaVasquez, 36, of Cockeysville, on southbound I-95, about a mile south of the
North East exit, for following a vehicle too closely and for failing to use a handsfree cellular device, police reported.
Conner dispatched MSP Cpl. Hirsch and his specially trained scent dog, K9 Pascal, because he noticed several “indicators of criminal activity” while interacting with Ventura-Vasquez during the traffic stop, according to charging documents. (To avoid compromising future investigations, law enforcement officers typically do not publicly specify “indicators of criminal activity.”)
K9 Pascal alerted to the presence of illegal narcotics while performing a sniff scan of the Tuscon’s exterior, prompting a probable-cause search of the vehicle in question, court records show.
Conner found three “large laundry bags” holding heat-sealed bags containing suspect marijuana, according to charging documents, which further allege that the suspect marijuana weighed 31,270 grams, which translates to 69.8 pounds or 14.2 kilograms (kilos). There are 453 grams in one pound, and there are 2.2 pounds in one kilo.
The investigator arrested Vasquez at the traffic stop scene, police reported.
“Evidence and statements made by the defendant (Ventura-Vasquez) indicate that the marijuana was being transported from New Jersey to Maryland . . . Based on the sheer amount of the marijuana seized show an indication to distribute and is clearly over the 11 kilogram threshold for importation,” Connor reports in his written statement of probable cause.
Scheduled for an Oct. 21 preliminary hearing, Ventura-Vasquez is facing four charges, three of which are felonies, including importing five to 45 kilograms of marijuana into the state and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, court records show.
Ventura-Vasquez remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond on Thursday, after his bail review hearing earlier that day, according to court records.