Last Thursday, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency received a tip from someone in Brownsville, Texas: A Dallas-bound freight shipment described on shipping manifests as a collection of scales and metal plates actually seemed to contain something else entirely.
The shipment was picked up that day from International Welding Tech in Brownsville by Averitt Express, destined for a nondescript warehouse on Ladybird Lane in the Design District belonging to Primos Produce.
It never quite made it.
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The next morning, agents intercepted the shipment at Averitt's Grand Prairie warehouse. They brought their drug dog, Cody, who "did alert positively on only the freight in question, indicating the presence of the odor of a controlled substance and/or dangerous drug inside the freight in question," according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court last week.
Within two hours, the DEA agents had a search warrant and soon after discovered 122 kilograms, or 269 pounds, of marijuana.
The 38-year-old owner of Primos Produce, Joel Valencia Salazar, arrived a few minutes later in a Chevy Tahoe, followed by an empty box truck. As the boxes of weed were being loaded into the box truck, agents arrested Salazar and the other man in the Tahoe, 35-year-old Gabriel Delgado.
According to the complaint, Delgado told officers he had been paid $500 to arrange the shipment. Salazar, in turn, said he'd also been paid $500 for use of his warehouse and that he'd stored marijuana there once before. Both men were charged with possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. Each man faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.