Six pounds of heroin with a street value of about $720,000 was discovered by a deputy and a drug dog during a traffic stop in Oklahoma City.
An Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputy noticed a car with an Arizona license plate make an illegal lane change about 8 p.m. Monday near N Meridian Avenue and Interstate 40. The deputy pulled the car over. He searched the car with Thor, a drug dog who signaled there were illegal drugs in the car, sheriff’s spokesman Mark Myers said.
The deputy found three bundles of black tar heroin hidden in two hidden panels and $9,000 in cash, Myers said.
The driver, Jaime Valenzuela-Buelna, 49, of Mexico, was arrested on complaints of aggravated heroin trafficking and possession of illegal drug proceeds.
“We run across a little bit of everything out there. But generally speaking, in Oklahoma as far as usage, you don’t see a lot of heroin being used,” Myers said. “A lot of the shipments to the East Coast pass through Oklahoma on our interstate system. This is an indication there is a lot passing through Oklahoma.”
The state medical examiner said there were 13 heroin deaths reported in Oklahoma in 2013 and 20 deaths from heroin in 2012.
Myers said police investigators are interviewing Valenzuela-Buelna regarding his role in distributing the heroin. According to a probable cause affidavit, the deputy thought the vehicle was en route to Phoenix from Columbus, Ohio.
Shipments of heroin generally are taken from Mexico to the East Coast, said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. There is more of a heroin epidemic currently on the East Coast, he said.
Heroin is mass-produced in southeast Asia and shipped or flown to drug cartels in Mexico, which bring it across the border in vehicles, Woodward said.
The deputy who made the arrest is a member of the Central Oklahoma Metro Interdiction Team, a multiagency unit operating under an agreement between the Oklahoma County district attorney's office, Oklahoma City Police Department and the sheriff’s office.
Thor helped law officers find 34 pounds of methamphetamine in a traffic stop Feb. 27 in Oklahoma City. Four people were arrested in that incident, Myers said.
“He’s been a good dog,” Myers said. “This is why we have these canines, because they can do things that we as humans cannot do, using their nose. It’s a great benefit to law enforcement.”