Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 1, 2013

Three arrested while driving through town – essentially drifting in a cloud of marijuana smoke

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Three young men police believe to be extremely stoned were taken into custody by Jacksonville Police early Monday after the officers who stopped them for reckless driving were pelted by a thick cloud of marijuana smoke coming from their vehicle.

“The smell was overwhelming,” said Jacksonville Police Sgt. Jason Price. “I mean, it would knock you down. … The smell, both burned and unburned marijuana, was tremendous. Even before I got close to the vehicle I could smell it in the open air.”

This discovery led to a search of the vehicle, in which officers found “a fairly large amount of marijuana” in the trunk, explained Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel.

Nearly four ounces, to be exact. Prescription pills  and snacks also were found.

The three told authorities during the 8 a.m. stop they got lost returning to Tyler after leaving a Houston rap concert. Authorities pulled the vehicle over in the parking lot of Whataburger, 627 S. Jackson St.

Price said the driver was conscious, but the front seat passenger was either asleep or passed out and a third passenger was sprawled out across the back seat, unconscious for one reason or another.

When authorities questioned the driver, he seemed to “not be 'with it' mentally,” Price said.

The passengers, when awakened, displayed the same signs of intoxication as the driver. They were all asked to exit the vehicle.

The officer had pulled over the vehicle because it was weaving but also because he had noticed the vehicle had a white light showing in its rear. Additionally, the view of the vehicle's license plate blocked by dangling equipment.

The strong marijuana smell gave Jacksonville Police the “probable cause” they needed to search the vehicle – which is when the marijuana was found as well as prescription Xanax and its generic counterpart, Alprazolam, Sgt. Price said. Both are used to treat anxiety.

“The back seat passenger also was found to have bag of marijuana in his pocket,” Sgt. Price said. “The front seat passenger said he had additional marijuana tucked in his seat. The driver is the one who admitted to the marijuana in the trunk.”

Driver Gilberto Rod-riguez, 18; front seat passenger Mark Anthony Morales, 18; and back seat passenger Edwardo Ociel Garcia, 18; were all taken into custody and booked into Jacksonville jail, jail records show.  Their vehicle was registered to a woman from Tyler.

Morales was arrested on suspicion of: driving while intoxicated (on marijuana), a Class B misdemeanor; possession of marijuana, a third degree felony; possession of a controlled substance, a state jail felony; and possession of a dangerous drug, a Class A misdemeanor. A judge on Tues-day morning set his bond at $7,500.

Morales was arrested on suspicion of: possession of marijuana less than two ounces, a Class B misdemeanor; and public intoxication, a class c misdemeanor. The judge on Tuesday set his bond at $4,000.

Garcia was arrested on suspicion of: possession of marijuana less than two ounces; possession of a controlled substance, a third degree felony; and possession of a dangerous drug, a Class A misdemeanor. Garcia was the passenger found with the pills. The judge set his bond at $1,000.

The rapper the three men told police they had traveled to Houston to see perform was also from the Tyler area.  

“They went to listen to the show but partied too hard and got lost coming home,” Sgt. Price said. “From the smell of the car, it seems like they were lost in a haze.”

In the truck – in addition to backpacks filled with clothes – was a freezer bag with the nearly four ounces of marijuana in it.

“Also in the trunk were a half-eaten bag of potato chips and honey buns,” Sgt, Price said. “They had their 'munchies' and their 'weed' all together.”

The three were ex-tremely cooperative with authorities, the sergeant said.

“Everyone was really chilled out,” he said. “When we got to jail they did ask what time we were eating.”