Drug Bust Bags Broccoli

East Texas narcotics officers who hauled in an 18-wheeler for a drug inspection ended up with a big bust, all right: 41,000 pounds of frozen broccoli.

Based on average prices for frozen broccoli in East Texas, the cargo was believed to have a street value of about $70,000.

Agents of the Ark-La-Tex Narcotic Task Force ordered the truck, pulled over on Interstate 30, unloaded Wednesday onto a steel company's parking lot 27 miles away.

Driver Jesse Avalos of Alamo in South Texas said the ordeal began when he was pulled over for driving too close to the edge of his lane.

"They asked for my driver's license, asked if I was carrying any drugs or weapons and I said, 'No'," he told the Longview News-Journal. "Then they told me they were going to bring in a drug-sniffing dog."

Avalos, who drives for the KTB Trucking Co. of Pharr, said he then was ordered to pull off the interstate.

"They told me the wind from traffic was too strong for the dog," Avalos said.

After a two-hour search, officers said the "dog had detected something." But they found the truck contained 16-ounce packages of frozen broccoli.

After the truck's trailer was unloaded with a fork lift and no drugs were found, Avalos said the Maryland-bound broccoli would be inspected at its destination to determine whether it had thawed and spoiled during the search.

A task force member told the newspaper the truck had been stopped and searched but declined further comment.

"The officers let me go... thanked me for my time and trouble," said Avalos.

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