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  1. buseman
    [imgl=white]http://img585.imageshack.us/img585/4224/drugbust1embeddedprodaf.jpg[/imgl]Perhaps the two men who got caught this week hauling 2,608 pounds of marijuana down I-77 were not the sharpest criminals operating in Richland County.

    The men, who are brothers, had overloaded their trailer so that it was weaving between lanes, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. That got Deputy Thomas McLamb’s attention.

    It obviously was a road hazard, McLamb said. On top of that, the brothers allegedly had smoked marijuana while driving. That didn’t help, Lott said of their driving skills.

    Now, Hector Humberto Solorio, 28, and Heriberto Belmonte Solorio, 39, are in jail for what Lott described as one of the largest marijuana busts in the county’s history.

    The Solorio brothers are charged with trafficking marijuana and are being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

    McLamb, who pulled over the men’s truck after 9 p.m. Wednesday, said he smelled marijuana in the vehicle. And that gave him reason to have his K-9 officer, Rinzo, a Belgian malinois dog, search their truck and cargo trailer.

    He alerted on that trailer, McLamb said. Inside the enclosed trailer, McLamb discovered 2,600 pounds of marijuana divided into 114 bundles.

    Narcotics agents said the cost of marijuana on the street depends on the quality and amount. A $10 bag will have 1 or 2 grams, depending on quality.

    This was one of those cases where we were at the right place at the right time, Lott said.

    Both men are in the country illegally from Mexico, Lott said. And that indicates local police have found one more piece of evidence that Mexican drug cartels are operating in the Midlands, Lott said.

    The sheriff’s department has asked federal investigators to join them as they try to determine where the marijuana came from and where it was going.

    We see it a lot on the lower levels, with a joint or a bag, but it starts somewhere, Lott said.

    In January, state and local police raided three homes in Columbia and seized more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana, a kilo of cocaine and $1.2 million cash.

    At the time, authorities called it one of the biggest drug busts in county history, and it was the largest amount of money ever seized in a local raid.
    That case also was linked to Mexican drug cartels.

    And last month, S.C. State Law Enforcement Division narcotics officers busted members of a Mexican heroin cartel after receiving a tip from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

    Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010


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