Houston authorities charged a truck driver with narcotics trafficking after seizing more than 7 tons of marijuana, says the Houston Chronicle. The case highlights what experts described as Harris County’s leading role as a distribution center for illicit drugs. An anonymous tip led drug agents to a drab warehouse where they found one of the largest marijuana stashes in recent memory. Inside wooden crates were 502 bundles of marijuana wrapped in plastic and coated with calcium carbonate to mask the odor. The 15,000-pound haul had a street value of $25 million to $40 million.
“We’ve always been a major hub for narcotics trafficking,” said Houston Police Capt. Stephen Smith. “Almost everything from Mexico comes through Houston.” Some of the same features that draw legitimate businesses to the Houston area – including major airports, seaports, and easy freeway access – are also attractive to drug cartels. The marijuana bales most likely were smuggled across the border from Mexico and were brought into Houston from the Rio Grande Valley. Bruce Bagley, a professor at the University of Miami who studies narcotics trafficking, said the haul was one of the largest he knows of. “It shows a high degree of confidence (among the smugglers) because it is uncommon for such a large (amount) of marijuana to be moved,” Bagley said.