WATHENA, Kan. — Two Mexican nationals, linked to the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world, have been arrested in the largest drug bust in Doniphan County history, authorities said.
Jesus Valdes-Ceryantes, 27, and a passenger, Dacar Cervantes-Contreas, 51, were driving through Wathena on U.S. Highway 36 late last week when Police Chief Jason Pendleton stopped them for speeding, said Sgt. Neal Hontz with the Elwood Police Department. After seeing Colorado license plates on the minivan, Mr. Pendleton requested assistance from Mr. Hontz and his K-9 partner, Cozmo, for a search of the vehicle.
“Chief Pendleton and I have both been through a lot of drug interdiction training, and I immediately thought this was suspicious,” Mr. Hontz said.
Mr. Pendleton said the driver, Mr. Valdes-Ceryantes, produced a driver’s license from Mexico. Both officers quickly warranted the K-9 unit around the vehicle, which indicated there were suspected illegal drugs.
“There were 151 packages of (suspected) marijuana, which totaled 223.3 pounds,” Mr. Pendleton said. “After doing some research, we estimated the street value to be between $500,000 and $700,000.”
The two men were taken into custody and booked into the Doniphan County Law Enforcement Center in Troy on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, no drug tax stamp, conspiracy to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Further investigation and conversations with authorities tied the suspects to drug-trafficking agents for the Sinaloa Cartel, which the U.S. Intelligence Community refers to as “the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world” throughout Mexico. It is a major producer of Mexican opium and marijuana.
“We were told the load was originally headed for Chicago, which is one of the of the cartel’s major areas,” Mr. Hontz said. “While a lot of drug cartels like to run their stuff along (Interstate) 70, (Interstate) 80, or the main thoroughfares, they also know highway patrols run major interdictions along those routes,” he said.
“A lot of times they try to take smaller highways, like U.S. 36, to try to avoid big law enforcement teams. But they happened to run into guys like us, who know what to look for.”
Added Mr. Pendleton: “We’ve all seen drugs being confiscated on TV shows, but this was by far the largest amount we’ve ever had in Doniphan County.”
Mr. Valdes-Ceryantes and Mr. Cervantes-Contreas are in custody pending formal filings anticipated for Thursday.