Tuesday, November 28th, 2006
Authorities seize shipped drugs
By Margie Wuebker
Twenty-one pounds of marijuana valued at nearly $27,000 were seized Monday afternoon after an Indiana man picked up a suspicious package at a Celina business.
Acting on a tip, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (BCI & I) alerted the Mercer County Sheriff's Office of the suspected pickup at a package delivery business in the Celina Industrial Park. Local efforts were mobilized in 90 minutes with BCI & I agents making a quick trip from the Bowling Green office.
Josue Perez, 19, of Indianapolis, picked up a cardboard box from an agent posing as a clerk shortly before 5 p.m. unaware that surveillance was in place. He was stopped a short time later in a parking lot near the intersection of Grand Lake Road and Wayne Street. Perez, who is also known as Thomas Sandoval, offered no resistance as sheriff's deputies and members of the Grand Lake Task Force approached his vehicle.
Sheriff Jeff Grey refused to disclose the name of the business where the drugs were picked up. He did say the business was not involved in the drug transaction.
Employees at United Parcel Service (UPS), located in the Celina Industrial Park, indicated they could not comment on the matter and referred all questions to the company's public relations representative. No call was received prior to presstime.
A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded the cardboard shipping box containing a plastic-wrapped bundle of marijuana with a street value of $800 to $3,000 per pound. The price depends on where the drug is sold, according to Grey.
Authorities also found more than $250 in cash and several identification cards bearing his picture but different names. The vehicle contained no weapons.
Perez was unable to communicate with authorities at the scene, but was taken to the Mercer County Jail, where Deputy Diana Contreras served as interpreter.
The investigation is continuing in hopes of determining who and where the package came from and whether Perez is in this country legally.
The case has been referred to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office for review and Perez remains incarcerated pending the filing of formal charges.
Grey is not surprised that drug traffickers leave metropolitan areas in favor of smaller communities.
"They think that we don't have the manpower or the resources to capture them," he added. "However, they do not know the success the task force continues to enjoy."