Crime

When a traffic stop turned into a trafficking arrest

Authorities guard a shipment of cocaine.
Authorities guard a shipment of cocaine. wmichot@miamiherald.com

A South Florida man has been arrested by federal agents who accuse him in a case with possible links to a drug-trafficking ring.

Alvaro Rodríguez was arrested last month by Indian River County sheriff's deputies duiring a traffic stop, according to federal court records.

An inspection of the vehicle revealed cocaine inside a plastic container and $60,000 cash, according to a criminal complaint filed by a special agent of Homeland Security Investigations), a unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The case is only the most recent in a series of similar cases involving distribution and sales of cocaine often smuggled from Mexico, Central and South America.

“During the traffic stop, a trained/certified K-9 [dog] alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle, a 2009 Hyundai Sonata ...that Álvaro Rodríguez was operating," according to the Homeland Security Investigations criminal complaint.

"A search of the vehicle's trunk revealed a plastic container that was tape closed," the complaint said. "Agents removed the lid and saw white garbage bags that were floating in what appeared to be liquid laundry detergent. The garbage bags were removed and revealed that the packages were concealed within tin foil as well as packing tape."

A white powdery substance found in the bags tested positive for cocaine, according to the criminal complaint.

The search also revealed a gray suitcase in the trunk that contained a black garbage bag. Inside agents found the money, according to the complaint.

After Rodríguez was arrested and read his rights, he told agents how he came into possession of the cocaine and the money.

According to the complaint, Rodríguez began his journey on the evening of Nov, 2 in Lake Worth when he began driving the rental vehicle to Houston.

"Rodríguez picked up the powdered cocaine [five kilos] on the morning of November 4 from [a] Mexican male," according to the complaint.

Then he drove top Edison, New Jersey where he sold two kilos. Then he began driving back to Florida to make more sales, but was stopped Nov. 8 in Indian River County.

A Homeland Security Investigations spokesman said he could not comment on the case because it's ongoing in court. Rodríguez's attorney could not be reached for comment.

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