At a time when heroin use is skyrocketing and fatal overdoses are following suit, spotting an 18-wheeler transporting drugs may be like searching for a needle in a haystack, but an observant trooper pulling over a rig with California plates last week for negligent driving did just that after he noticed something suspicious about the driver and his tractor trailer.
A drug-sniffing dog confirmed that suspicion.
"Our troopers then did a probable cause search of that truck tractor and found four specially-made hidden compartments inside the cab of that truck tractor and inside those compartments was about 12 and a half pounds of heroin and over a pound... about a pound and a half of crystal methamphetamine," said Greg Shipley of the Maryland State Police.
The owner of that truck who was behind the wheel when it was stopped has been identified as 52-year-old Cesar Carillo-Gomez and he now faces a series of charges including transporting the drugs into the state with the intent to distribute them.
The semi was headed northbound on Interstate 95 near the exit to Havre de Grace, and at this point, Maryland State Police can't be sure of its destination.
But. they say even a single bust of this size can have an effect and could ultimately save lives.
"A recovery like this is a significant recovery and it does have at least a temporary impact on the drug trade in whatever area it was headed to, because depending on the purity of that load that was coming in that drug could have been cut several times and turned into 36 pounds of heroin by the time it got ready to be sold on the street in single dosage unit bags," Shipley said.
Carillo-Gomez is being held at the Harford County Detention Center, and his initial bail was set at $2 million.