K-9 Magnum finds what people do not see — hidden narcotics

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee man was arrested for allegedly being in possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia, after being pulled over for an expired tag and a faulty headlight.

Manuel Mojica, 33

Manuel Mojica, 33, N.E. 11th Way, Okeechobee, was arrested Oct. 31 for a felony charge of possession of marijuana with intent to sell and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $11,000.

According to an arrest report by Deputy Brian Cross, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), he initiated a traffic stop on a blue Honda traveling north around the 800 block of U.S. 441 S. due to an observation by the deputy of a headlight that appeared not to work and the tag was expired in July of this year.

Upon meeting the registered owner of the vehicle, Mojica, Deputy Cross noticed that he was very nervous with hands shaking and avoiding eye contact. Deputy Cross noted that Mojica’s eyes appeared to be bloodshot and that he could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.

The report continued that Mojica was asked to step out of the vehicle and consented to his body being searched – on which nothing was found – and it was explained that the deputy could smell marijuana coming from him and inside the vehicle. Deputy Cross opened the door to the vehicle and did not see any marijuana in the driver’s door.

K-9 Magnum was tasked to locate the suspected illegal narcotics and gave a positive alert to the center console, at the floor, next to the gas pedal and was returned to the patrol vehicle afterward.

Deputy Cross stated in his report that after searching where Magnum had alerted, a plastic access panel concealed a plastic bag containing eight grams of suspected marijuana.

Further investigation revealed a glass jar which contained two plastic bags with approximately four grams of suspected marijuana and two grams of suspected loose marijuana in each, located in the trunk, behind the carpet and next to the inside fender.

The report points out that the suspected marijuana all field tested positive, was located in two separate locations in the car, weighed a total of 18 grams and photographs were taken that were submitted into evidence.

Deputy Cross’ report concluded with Mojica being arrested on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also received a citation for the faulty equipment and for a tag expired less than 6 months.

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