The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced that a routine vehicle stop on the afternoon of Oct. 2 led to the discovery of a significant quantity of marijuana. The 22-year-old Brownsville man who was behind the wheel of the SUV involved was taken into custody following the search and charged with a felony count of drug possession. Reports indicate that he was transported to a detention facility in Willacy County after being booked and processed.

According to a police report, a TDPS trooper pulled over the Kia SUV for an unspecified traffic violation on Interstate 69 in Willacy County at approximately 3:15 p.m. However, the report does not indicate what led the trooper to believe that the vehicle may have contained drugs or whether or not a warrant was issued prior to the search.

The trooper is said to have found 24 bundles of marijuana concealed in the SUV’s gas tank. According to the TDPS, the street value of the seized drugs is approximately $176,000. Reports do not indicate if the drugs were discovered during a roadside search or at a TDPS facility during a more rigorous inspection.

Police officers are sometimes permitted to search vehicles without first obtaining a search warrant, but they must be able to establish that they had probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime would be discovered. This probable cause must be based on clear evidence, such as suspicious items left in plain view, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have drug charges dismissed when police officers have conducted searches based on no more than a hunch.