The net haul was 507 pounds of marijuana, authorities said.
Florentino Hernandez-Padron, 41, and Benjamin Lopez-Zapata, 46, both of 1053 Dawnville Road, were each charged by the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office with trafficking in marijuana. Padron-Hernandez also has an address listed at 407 E. Eighth St. in Los Fresnos, Texas.
Narcotics detection dogs were brought in and alerted on the package in Brownsville, Whitfield Sheriff Scott Chitwood said.
“Our sheriff’s office narcotics division was notified by (U.S.) Customs agents and a joint investigation was initiated,” he reported. “The package was re-wrapped and flown to the UPS Freight Center in Ringgold by (Department of) Homeland Security Customs agents on Sunday. On Monday morning, officers conducting surveillance observed two suspects retrieve the package from the UPS Freight Center and transport it to a residence on Dawnville Road. The two suspects were taken into custody at that time and the marijuana recovered.”
A search warrant was served at the location and the additional 237 pounds of marijuana was discovered in an outbuilding. Also seized were firearms, a 1999 BMW and $14,580 in cash.
“Our investigation revealed Florentino, who is originally from Brownsville, came to Dalton to organize and coordinate the shipments of marijuana,” Chitwood said. “Evidence was discovered that Florentino had received at least two previous shipments. The bulk of the marijuana was being sent to Dalton and then picked up by individuals from the Atlanta area.”
Chitwood said Hernandez-Padron and Lopez-Zapata are being held at the county jail without bond. Assisting the sheriff’s office and Homeland Security in the investigation were the Tunnel Hill Police Department, the Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force and the Georgia State Patrol.
Hernandez-Padron was checked and “cleared” of any immigration violations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but Lopez-Zapata is getting a longer look by the agency, a jail spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
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