New Mexico Traffic Stop Turns Up 49 Pounds of Weed, 10 Pounds THC Wax

This video provides a rare look at some of the techniques used by law enforcement in identifying and interdicting interstate drug traffickers.

On January 13, 2018, Officer Hermilo Lucero was conducting patrol operations near the City of Grants, New Mexico. While traveling eastbound on I-40, he came upon a White Chevy 4-door passenger vehicle which he paced at 80 mph in a 75 mph zone. He initiated a traffic stop, and as the vehicle came to a stop Officer Lucero observed a front passenger sit up in the seat.

Upon making contact with the vehicle’s occupants Officer Lucero observed a dog in the back seat as well as a duffel bag. Officer Lucero stated that he usually has subjects stand by his front passenger-side tire during traffic stops, but due to the extreme cold he conducted a pat down of the driver – later identified as Eric Vredenburgh – and then had him sit in the front passenger seat of his police car.

While making conversation with the driver Officer Lucero observed him to be uncharacteristically nervous: “he had shallowed breathing, he had a dead stare out the front windshield, [was] chewing his gum very rapidly, avoided eye contact, and became very talkative.”

The following selections are excerpted from Officer Lucero’s report: “During our conversation while I was conducting business, Mr. Vredenburgh was really nervous, every time I asked a question of concern he would rub his face, twist his mustache, attempt to change the subject).”

“At this time I advised Mr. Vredenburgh he was free to leave to have a good day and a safe trip. At this time Mr. Vredenburgh exited my vehicle and started walking back to his vehicle. At this time I had observed several criminal behaviors and items of interest of criminal activity. These items of interests are as follows:

1. My training and experience.

2. Coming from Portland, Oregon. (This city is known for receiving/shipping illegal narcotics into the greater United States).

3. Going to Austin, Texas/ Oklahoma City. (This city is known for receiving/shipping illegal narcotics into the greater United States).

4. The driver being very nervous. (Innocent motoring public tends to be nervous when first encountering law enforcement, but subsides as the contact prolongs, and his never subsided).

5. Their travel plans seemed implausible. (The rental car was from Portland, Oregon, Mr. Vredenburgh advised they were in Las Vegas for two days, so travel plans don’t meet the time frame.)

6. The luggage in the back of the vehicle, people tend to place luggage in the trunk of the vehicle if the trunk of the vehicle is not full.

Due to, but not limited to, the above criminal behaviors and items of interest, I had reasonable suspicion that Mr. Vredenburgh and passenger were involved in some type of criminal activity.

As Mr. Vredenburgh got between my police vehicle and his vehicle I called out to Mr. Vredenburgh he stopped I asked him if I could asked him some questions he stated yes, Mr. Vredenburgh returned to my police vehicle without any further direction from me. [As] Mr. Vredenburgh was returning back to my vehicle I advised him he could sit in my unit if he desired which he did sit back down in my police vehicle.”

“At this time I retrieved my narcotic sniffing canine Blek from my police vehicle. I deployed Canine Blek in a systematic exterior sniff of the vehicle, while doing so Canine Blek alerted to the vehicle attempting to jump in the driver’s side open window attempting to trace odor he was detecting and he alerted to the trunk of the vehicle. Canine Blek and I are certified as a team through the New Mexico State Police Criminal Enforcement Unit, and through CNCA…”

“At the office I drafted, applied, granted and executed a search warrant on the vehicle. Inside the vehicle I located 49 pounds of high grade marijuana, 3.5 pounds of THC wax in wax form, and several jars of THC wax in these jars.”

Due to space constraints, case disposition information will be posted in a pinned comment.

Some of you will remember the video where a New Mexico trooper called a woman’s dentist to confirm her appointment. Now you know why.


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