Valdosta Daily Times

August 24, 2013

An $800,000 traffic stop

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — An Interstate 75 traffic stop for a driver weaving in traffic led to Lowndes County sheriff’s deputies discovering an estimated $800,000 in cocaine within an electronic storage unit hidden in the vehicle’s roof, Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine said Friday.

The sheriff’s office’s Interstate Criminal Enforcement team stopped a 2007 Ford Taurus Thursday at I-75’s 14-mile marker. During the stop, the ICE deputy learned the driver’s license was suspended, the sheriff said.

Authorities asked to search the car; the driver, the vehicle’s only occupant, agreed to the search, the sheriff’s office reported.

Authorities discovered the hidden compartment. “You pushed a button which hydraulically opened the compartment on the roof,” Prine said.

Concealed inside, deputies found eight heat-sealed kilos that field-tested positive as cocaine, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies estimated the cocaine’s street value at approximately $800,000.

Glenn Cruz of Homestead, Fla., was taken into custody and was being held Friday in the Lowndes County Jail; Cruz is charged with trafficking in cocaine, Prine said.

The sheriff said the car was especially built for concealing and hauling drugs and drug money. The sheriff’s office has impounded the vehicle. Once officially in the arresting agency’s possession, officials can destroy it, use it as a law-enforcement vehicle, or use it to train law officers how to look for hidden compartments during roadside vehicle searches, Prine said.

Had the Taurus not been altered for criminal activity, the sheriff’s office would also have the option of selling it to the general public.

As for the investigation, a Lowndes County sheriff’s investigator, who is also attached to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, is assisting the ICE team in the investigation.

The sheriff said he appreciates the work of his officers in this case and all they do to keep Lowndes County safe.