Florida Keys

It was a routine traffic stop. Then the drug-sniffing dog arrived.

Ulises Curbelo
Ulises Curbelo Monroe Country Sheriff’s Office

A Cutler Bay man’s failure to move over for an emergency vehicle as required by state law escalated quickly from a traffic citation to felony drug charges, as well as a gun charge, Thursday.

Ulises Curbelo, 48, was arrested on felony possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession a firearm during the commission of a felony and misdemeanor drug equipment possession.

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled Curbelo over traveling southbound at mile marker 92.5 in Tavernier around 11:30 a.m. Deputy Shaun Lones wrote in his report that he saw Curbelo’s black Ford pickup truck pass Sheriff’s Office patrol cars twice that were on the side of the road with their lights flashing. According to state law, drivers must either move over a lane away from the shoulder where an emergency vehicle is parked with lights flashing or lower their speed 20 mph below the posted limit.

Curbelo did neither, according to Lones’ report. The deputy walked up to the driver’s side window and stated in his report he smelled a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Curbelo handed over his driver’s license and apologized, saying his brother is a police officer, Lones reported.

Lones asked Curbelo if there was any marijuana in the car. He responded, according to the report, that he had just smoked a joint earlier. He handed the deputy a cigar case with a “roach,” or a stub of the pot cigarette, left. Lones asked Curbelo to get out of the truck.

After exiting the vehicle, Curbelo told the deputy he had a loaded Ruger .380 pistol in the overhead compartment of the truck.

Meanwhile, a United States Border Patrol agent arrived with a drug-sniffing dog. The agent told Lones that the dog reacted to the presence of more drugs in the pickup, according to the arrest report.

Lones searched the truck and found a silver briefcase containing three red canisters and one clear canister with marijuana inside them. There was also an Altoids mints tin with marijuana in it, two “torpedo” marijuana cigarettes, one “Toast Gold” pack, which is a marijuana brand based in Colorado,where weed is legal, with two pot cigarettes in it, one electronic cigarette with two replacement cartridges that had 80-percent cannabis solution instead of nicotine, and a black grinder containing marijuana residue.

Lones also found a gold canister inside the truck containing ground marijuana.

Curbelo has since been released from jail. No information was available at press time about his bond amount.

David Goodhue: 305-440-3204