Criminals find new ways to transport drugs

Law enforcement officials across the Mid-South are facing a growing problem when it comes to the transportation of illegal drugs.

Criminals don't want to move drugs along Mid-South interstates themselves, because they know law officers are looking out for them. Instead, they look for other ways to move their product. Officers say drug dealers are using legitimate trucking companies to get their drugs from one point to another.

Saturday, a load of marijuana weighing 342 pounds, worth more than a half a million dollars, was brought in from Texas by a trucking company in West Memphis.

West Memphis Police credit an alert terminal manager with making the find.

"The terminal manager called us. We went out looked at it," said Chief Bob Paudert of the West Memphis Police Department. "We got a search warrant and went back and found it was marijuana."

Paudert says a few minutes after making their find, Jose Ortiz of EL Paso, Texas, showed up to claim the cases of pot. He told officers he was being paid $500 to take the them to Wal Mart. Police arrested Ortiz.

The terminal manager was tipped off by a bogus address. The packaging the marijuana was found in was listed as musical equipment. It was supposed to go to a music store in Bartlett, but the store didn't exist.

Paudert said when the drug shipment actually gets to its destination, cash is sent back frequently the same way, all under the guise of a legitimate product for shipping. According to Paudert, shipping drugs through commercial carriers is becoming common.

"We're getting more calls than ever about commercial transportation of drugs," he said.

Jose Ortiz is being held in the Crittenden County Detention Center, charged with possession with intent to sell.