A Texas man was officially charged in Lyon County District Court Monday after he was allegedly caught with 30 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop last week.
According to an affidavit obtained by The Gazette, a Kansas Highway Trooper pulled over a Ford F-150 driven by 29-year-old Luis Alonzo Alvarado at 12:11 p.m. Wednesday near milepost 120 on Interstate 35 — about seven miles south of Emporia. During the stop, a probable cause search revealed Alvarado was allegedly transporting approximately 30 pounds of methamphetamine.
He has been officially charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, no drug tax stamp, use of a cell phone to commit a drug felony and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The trooper pulled over the pickup truck after he witnessed Alvarado driving down the center of the road, splitting the dashed line, while traveling north on the interstate. He also did not use a turn signal while switching lanes and part of the bracket around his license plate covered the issuing state — Texas.
During the stop, the trooper noted several factors that raised his suspicion of criminal activity.
He detected a “very strong citrus air freshener odor.” According to the affidavit, drug traffickers commonly use masking odors to hide the scent of illegal drugs. There was also a single key in the ignition, which was not attached to any other keys.
“This is significant because drug trafficking organizations will frequently give a smuggler a vehicle, sometimes registering it in the smuggler’s name and pre-loading it with illegal contraband,” read the affidavit. “They are then given instructions on where to park the vehicle at the destination city, leaving a key with the vehicle. Therefore, none of the smuggler’s personal keys such as for home, mail, other vehicles, etc... or a personalized chain will be present with the ignition key.”
The trooper also noted that Alvarado did not appear to have any clothing or personal items in the vehicle despite the fact he indicated during the stop it was an overnight trip. He told the trooper he was headed from El Paso, Texas, to Kansas City in search of work. Alvarado was also noted as “overly friendly and talkative.” This, the affidavit said, indicates “extreme nervousness and can be used as a tactic to distract law enforcement from discovering the actual travel plans.”
The fact Alvarado said he was traveling from El Paso also raised suspicion as it is known as a major hub for narcotics to enter the United States.
Following the traffic stop, the trooper asked Alvarado if he could search the vehicle, a request to which he immediately consented.
“(The Trooper), along with (another Kansas Highway Patrolman), began a consent search of the vehicle,” reads the affidavit. “(One of the troopers) deployed his K9. At the end of the deployment, (the trooper) informed (his partner) that the K9 had indicated to the odor of narcotics.”
The Kansas Highway Patrol escorted Alvarado and the vehicle to Troop N in Topeka to continue the search, during which they found 13 aluminum foil wrapped bundles of methamphetamine (30.4 pounds) and a gold, Samsung cell phone in the center console.
“The bundles of methamphetamine were found in an aftermarket compartment in the dash,” reads the affidavit. “The compartment ran along the top of the dash and was over half the width of the pickup. The compartment was located after bondo was discovered under the plastic cowling at the bottom of the windshield. The compartment was accessed by prying up a plastic panel on the top side of the dash.”
The contents of the 13 bundles were tested and found positive to be methamphetamine.
Possession with intent to sell more than 100 grams of methamphetamine is a Drug Severity Level 1 felony. The charges of illegal use of a communication device and possession of drug paraphernalia are also felonies.