State Police targeting illegal drug hauls along I-10

State Police patrols along Interstate 10 on the lookout this past weekend for drug trafficking, possibly from Mexico, confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana valued at about $1.5 million in three traffic stops between Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

“We’re hoping that people realize that there are a lot of narcotics traveling through our state,” Trooper 1st Class Jared Sandifer said.

Sandifer described the stops as “proactive traffic stops.”

All three drivers were traveling east on the interstate, and two of the three drivers booked are from Texas.

“A lot of the marijuana and narcotics is coming from Mexico,” Sandifer said. “They will recruit drivers from Texas to ferry them across the states.”

In all three cases, State Police stopped the cars after spotting improper lane usage, a broad category that includes failure to signal during a lane change or crossing the center line, Sandifer said.

“(Troopers) know what to look for,” Sandifer said. “It’s not profiling.”

All three drivers were booked on counts of improper lane usage and possession with intent to distribute narcotics.

The biggest haul of three stops — 586 pounds of pot — was handled by Troop I.

The stop was made at 7:15 a.m. Monday west of Henderson in St. Martin Parish, Sandifer said. Juan Rangel, 25, of Brownsville, Texas, was booked into St. Martin Parish Jail.

He drove a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder and also had no driver’s license, Sandifer said.

In the other two stops, on Friday and Sunday nights, troopers with Troop A uncovered 100 and 244 pounds of pot respectively.

The Friday stop also turned up 11,000 doses of Ecstasy, valued at more than $110,000, as well as 8 ounces of codeine syrup, Sandifer said. Those stops occurred in the same place, in West Baton Rouge Parish west of the La. 415 interchange.

In the Friday stop, at 11:30 p.m., Jamorrius R. Gibson, 23, of Hammond, was driving a 2007 Honda Accord, Sandifer said. In the Sunday stop, also at 11:30 p.m., Martin Martinez, 34, of La Marque, Texas, was driving a 2007 Mercedes CL550.

Both Gibson and Martinez were booked in West Baton Rouge Parish jail.

“We’re going to stop as many of these guys as we can who choose to drive narcotics through our state,” Sandifer said.

State Police also disclosed a similar stop conducted a month earlier, at noon Feb. 26.

Like the ones this past week, it involved an eastbound car, a 2013 Lexus GS350, and it occurred along I-10 west of the La. 415 interchange.

During that stop, troopers found 11 pounds of cocaine, which Sandifer said is worth an estimated $406,000, along with two handguns and $10,000 in cash hidden in the vehicle.

Christopher Lee-Sinc Jackson, 31, of Beaumont, Texas, was booked in West Baton Rouge Parish jail on counts of possession with intent to distribute narcotics, as well as improper lane usage and illegal carrying of weapons, Sandifer said.