Jaime Garza of Edinburg, 45, was caught transporting the 830 pounds of marijuana when he was pulled over by Sgt. Jason Lee of the George West Police Department for not having a license plate light while towing a horse trailer with four horses on July 13 at about 4 a.m. at the intersection of Highway 281 and Robert Lloyd Drive.
While Lee spoke with Garza he had conflicting stories about his destination and knowledge of horses, according to GWPD Chief Rey Garcia. Lee said that Garza claimed he was going to San Antonio.
Lee asked Garza for consent to search the F350 truck and trailer, and during his search he noticed a modified wall inside of the trailer’s tack room. Lee drilled a hole inside one of the panels and probed it with a rod; when he pulled it out there was cellophane and marijuana on the tip, according to Garcia.
Lee was accompanied by GWPD’s Cody Wheeler and John Castaneda when the 830 pounds of marijuana was apprehended.
“The reward in itself is getting it off the streets,” Lee said.
Garza was released the following day on a surety bond of $15,000, according to Live Oak County Sheriff’s Department. The marijuana, truck, trailer and horses remain in GWPD custody. Garcia said the marijuana will remain in police custody until the case is complete and will be destroyed afterwards. As of July 17, the GWPD was trying to return the horses to their owner.
Then two days later, Mattheu Ellis Jones of Alton, 23, was caught with 10 pounds of crystal meth when pulled over in a 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac for a turning violation on Highway 281 in George West by Sgt. Jorge Medina on July 15 at about 1 a.m.
Garcia said Jones’ stories didn’t match up, he claimed he was en route to Houston’s Alliance Stadium for a flag football competition.
“Thank God for computers; the only thing at the stadium was the Ringling Brothers Circus, so that threw a kink in the story,” Garcia said. “A crook is going to lie to you; they can’t anticipate the next question you’re going to ask and how to answer.”
Garcia said Jones consented to a search when the 10 pounds of crystal meth was found in a hidden compartment behind the truck seat, sealed in silver tape. Inside of the compartment were four tupperware containers, each completely wrapped in black duct tape and “loaded to the gill with crystal meth,” according to Garcia.
The chief estimated the value of the meth was between $18-30,000 per pound depending on its final destination. He said street value could potentially triple its worth, making the crystal meth bust potentially worth up to $1 million on its own. But taken at face value, the total for the marijuana and crystal meth comes to about $1 million, according to Garcia.
“It depends on the destination of the drugs; the further north, the higher it goes,” Garcia said.
He said this was the largest crystal meth bust GWPD has ever had; usually it’s found in small quantities of “baggies and chunks.”
“It doesn’t take more than a hit to get you hooked,” Garcia said.
He also said this was the largest marijuana bust that led to an arrest; there was a case about three or four years ago involving 2,000 pounds of marijuana in George West.
Lee credited the two events occurring in George West with the city’s proximity to Highway 281, Highway 59 and Interstate 37.