Traf­fic stop near North East nets 69 pounds of ‘pot,’ one ar­rest

Cecil Whig - - CRIME - By CARL HAMILTON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­

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.

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