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Traffic stop nets 500 pounds of marijuana

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A seemingly routine traffic stop nets nearly 500 pounds of marijuana for law enforcement over the weekend.

The two suspects were busted near S.W. 25th St. and May Ave. Sunday afternoon.

Officers with the Central Oklahoma Metro Interdiction Team (COMIT) are always looking for traffic violations because, as in this case, it can lead to the discovery of more serious crimes.

A normal drug bust along an Oklahoma County interstate nets one or two pounds of drugs.

Sunday afternoon, officials said a pickup truck tipped the scales.

"It's a phenomenal bust," Sheriff John Whetsel said. "Just a huge bust."

Whetsel said an officer pulled over 20-year-old Cruz Rodriguez and 17-year-old Jose Pena for speeding near I-44.

He said both were here illegally and they produced fake Mexican driver's licenses.

He said in the back of their truck, "in plain sight, the officers observed several cardboard boxes that were wrapped in tape."

A K-9 determined the presence of drugs.

Officers found 369 packages of marijuana that weighed a total of 492 pounds with an estimated value is around $750,000.

While the bust was huge, Whetsel said drug trafficking is routine in Oklahoma City.

The capital is a crossroads of drug activity with I-44, I-40 and I-35 producing arrests every week.

He said I-35 is the drug pipeline from Mexico.

"(We find) either money that's being taken to Mexico to buy or drugs that have been purchased in Mexico that are coming back either into Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, or moving into Chicago, moving out to California," he said.

So for local officers, there is no routine traffic stop.

"We are coming across criminals," Whetsel said. "We are coming across burglars. We're coming across drug dealers. They drive their cars to and from work also."

Whetsel said young people are often used for drug trafficking because the cartels think if they're caught, their punishment will be less severe.

The state will destroy the drugs but the pickup will be sold and the cash will be split between the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, Oklahoma City Police Department and D.A.'s office.

Rodriguez and Pena were both arrested on a complaint of trafficking drugs.

Their bond has been set at $25,000.