Highway 49 is a popular route for drug-trafficking


RICHLAND, Miss. (WJTV) – A truck driver is arrested after officers say they found millions of dollars of drugs in his tractor-trailer.

Richland Police say this is the biggest bust they’ve had on Highway 49 and they are seeing an increase in this route being used to transport drugs.

“Forty-nine for sure. We’ve had some really large busts on I-20, that’s really common but as far as 49, this is huge.”

Junier Carmenate was arrested Sunday, October 9, 2016; he’s accused of transporting drugs in his 18-wheeler with intent to distribute.

Richland Police initially pulled him over for driving carelessly on Highway 49.

During the stop, police say Carmenate began to act suspicious

“The officer had reason to believe he may be hauling drugs. He asked the question, ‘Hey look, what’s in the vehicle, is there anything illegal? You could tell his mannerisms were off. So he asked for consent to search,” said Chief Russel James with the Richland Police Department.

When police opened the back of the cargo, they found hundreds of cases of strawberries and millions of dollars’ worth of marijuana.

There were eight bags of the drug, weighing 528 pounds, with a street value of $4,700,000.

Chief James says Carmenate is a certified truck driver.

He left California and was heading to Florida to deliver the load.

“I bet that the company that hires this individual to deliver this load of strawberries had no idea he was hauling marijuana. These mules are just using a legitimate means of business to mask something that is illegal,” said Chief James.

Chief James says Highway 49 is a very busy highway and it has been a frequent route for drugs being transported to other states because of its quick and easy route.

“I think what’s happening now, is with the use of GPS these guys are putting a location in their phone and the GPS is sometimes taking through these smaller routes,” said Chief James.

Chief James doesn’t have any reason to believe Carmenate was going to stop here in Mississippi.

But he does have a message for everyone trafficking drugs to, or through, the area.

“So, we want you to know we are going to do everything we can to put you in jail. That’s what our goal is,” said Chief James.

Carmenate is being charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

He is currently in Rankin County Jail awaiting a court date for a bond to be set.

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