THP and Drug Force are partners

THP and Drug Force are partners

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 12:03 am

Nashville – The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Interdiction Plus program in the Memphis District has teamed up with the West Tennessee Drug Task Force (WTDTF), to identify, arrest and prosecute the most serious criminals who travel across the state of Tennessee. 

The joint venture marks the first full-time partnership for the THP Interdiction Plus program.   

“This partnership between our State Troopers and the West Tennessee Drug Task Force will help us fight drug trafficking through Tennessee, especially on the I-40 corridor,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. 

“Our ability to protect the citizens of Tennessee is a top priority, and this relationship will only strengthen that mission. I’m optimistic that this endeavor will lead to other drug interdiction partnerships with the Highway Patrol.”  

The WTDTF Criminal Interdiction Unit consists of members from the Germantown Police Department, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, Haywood County Sheriff’s Department, Oakland Police Department, Dyersburg Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the 30th Judicial Violent Crime and Drug Task Force. 

Already, the Highway Patrol/WTDTF partnership has led to an arrest and drug seizure in Fayette County. On Friday, March 18, a WTDTF unit stopped a 2004 Nissan Sentra out of California for failure to maintain lane and driving 60 miles per hour in the left lane of traffic at approximately 6:10 a.m. (CST) on Interstate 40 eastbound at the 43 mile marker. After a brief conversation, the officers learned that the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, Miguel Maldanado Gonzales, Jr., was purportedly traveling from California to Charlotte, N.C.  When the officers requested and obtained consent to search the vehicle, Gonzales voluntarily handed over a 2.5 pound bundle of cocaine from a bag in the trunk. He was then taken into custody.  

WTDTF officers and Interdiction Plus Trooper Grant Montgomery remained on the scene to complete the vehicle search. During the investigation, Trooper Montgomery removed the vehicles’ gas tank sending unit and discovered an additional 5.5 pounds of what was later determined as heroin.  

Upon consulting with federal authorities, the investigation continued and a controlled delivery was made to a home in Charlotte on Saturday, March 19. There, federal agents arrested four additional suspects and seized drug cutting and packing materials. 

Gonzales, 30, was charged federally with cocaine trafficking and opium or heroin trafficking and is currently being held in the Cabarrus County Jail in North Carolina. His bond is listed at $1 million. 

The Tennessee Department of Safety’s www.TN.Gov/safety mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.  The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.

wcp 3/24/11

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