I-70 stop yields $1 million worth of cocaine
Grand Junction correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” A traffic stop by Western Colorado Drug Task Force officers allegedly turned up 28 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $1 million, all hidden in the back of a Jeep Liberty.
Jose De Jesus Serrano-Mata, aka Valentine Valverde-Hernandez, was stopped just before 4 a.m. Thursday for allegedly following too close to another vehicle eastbound on Interstate 70 near mile post 12, according to an arrest affidavit.
The driver handed Task Force officers a Mexican driver’s license identifying himself as Serrano-Mata, 31. He said he was driving to Kansas from Los Angeles to visit family for 15 days.
An alleged unidentified chemical odor drew suspicions as did the Jeep Liberty’s odometer reading ” 169,000 miles. Registration information showed the Liberty had 118,421 miles as of mid-February this year.
“That averages out to about 750 miles a week,” the officer wrote.
According to the affidavit, the officer told the driver he was free to leave, but the officer then asked and received permission to search the car.
“Obvious signs of tampering,” were allegedly found on the Liberty’s rear deck and rear seats. An officer used a power drill to open a suspected hidden compartment.
“When the drill went through the metal a white powder blew out of the hole,” the affidavit said.
Ten packaged bricks of suspected cocaine were pulled out ” around “48,000 dosage units” worth roughly $1 million, the affidavit said.
When interviewed by federal immigration authorities, Serrano-Mata allegedly said his real name was Valentine Valverde-Hernandez, 30.
He was booked into the Mesa County jail on suspicion of a special offender drug charge, distribution of cocaine and criminal impersonation.
A check of his criminal history showed he’d recently been deported, according to the affidavit.
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