Neb. man jailed in 20-pound cocaine stop

A Nebraska man pulled over by police on Interstate 70 early Tuesday said he was returning from Las Vegas before officers found 20 pounds of cocaine hidden in his car, according to an arrest affidavit.

Mario Franco, 37, of South Sioux City, Neb., was ordered jailed on $50,000 bond after his arrest on suspicion of distribution of cocaine and a sentence-enhancing special offender charge for importation of a controlled substance.

All of the charges relate to a traffic stop around 4:40 a.m. Tuesday at mile marker 9 in the eastbound lane.

An officer wrote in the affidavit an unknown object appeared hanging from the rear view mirror, causing a potential vision obstruction, the affidavit said.

Franco explained he’d been driving continuously since leaving Las Vegas, while appearing nervous while answering the officer’s questions.

“I asked him if he was getting tired and he said no,” the affidavit said.

Franco was told he was free to leave, but later agreed to a voluntary search of his Toyota Camry, the affidavit said.

The officer became suspicious after looking under the rear driver’s side wheel well, where he observed a fresh undercoat spray, the affidavit said.

Undercoat spray is commonly used to cover hidden compartments on vehicles used for drug smuggling, the affidavit said.

Franco agreed to take the vehicle to Mesa County Shops.

There, a county mechanic removed a rear tire and eventually discovered a compartment holding eight packages and a little more than 20 pounds of cocaine, according to the affidavit.


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