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Traffic stop in Minn. yields more than a ton of pot - and 20 tons of candy

Sunday, June 3, 2007

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Two men hauling more than 40,000 pounds of Jawbreaker candies also had some not-so-sweet freight: nearly 1 1/2 tons of marijuana, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

Luis Rene Avila and Juan Carlos appeared in federal court Thursday on charges of intent to distribute marijuana.

A search using a drug-sniffing dog turned up the load during a traffic stop Tuesday near St. Paul. The 41 boxes of marijuana were surrounded by 28 pallets of boxes containing the hard candy, authorities said.

Kent Bailey, acting special agent in charge of the Minneapolis-St. Paul office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the marijuana would be incinerated and the candy probably would be destroyed as well.

"I initially thought about how we could give that away to kids forever and ever. But I couldn't take the risk," he said. "Even though they were in cellophane and they're boxed, that package has been sitting somewhere for a month with a ton and a half of marijuana next to it."

The truck was believed to have originated in Texas, but authorities said the men wouldn't say where it was headed or for whom they were carrying the load, according to court documents.

Carlos, of Mexico, faces deportation, authorities said. His attorney, Arthur Martinez, said Carlos was an unwitting passenger who had hitched a ride from Avila at a truck stop.

Caroline Durham, a public defender for Avila, did not immediately return a call Friday.


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