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Pot bust suspects head to grand jury
Jul 04, 2006 12:00 am
June 22, 2006 A pair of suspects charged in one of the largest narcotics seizures in Lebanon history had their cases bound over to a grand jury Wednesday in Wilson County Criminal Court.
Ricardo Arellano, 43, of Texas, and Jose Luis Hernandez Delgado, 34, of Nashville, each face charges of conspiracy to possess more than 300 pounds of marijuana. The pair, along with four others, is accused of possessing pot with the intent to deliver it to a Nashville man.
The charges stem from an early morning incident May 31 in which Lebanon police officers seized more than 600 pounds of marijuana hidden behind a false wall inside a tractor-trailer.
Police received a tip a "large shipment" would arrive on Memorial Day, but instead the tractor-trailer believed to be carrying the supply was spotted two days later at a garage behind 1107 W. Main St.
Arellano and Delgado sat quietly as four members of Lebanon's SWAT team carefully explained their roles in the "take down."
Detective Donnie Self, who is one of the city's two K-9 officers, testified his dog "alerted" on the trailer – which at first appeared to be empty – during an exterior search.
After obtaining a search warrant, he stated officers found the marijuana in a 3-foot compartment "framed in" the front of trailer.
Although both men speak some English, Delgado listened with the help of an interpreter as Assistant District Attorney David Durham displayed photos of the tractor-trailer, the seized narcotics and an aerial view of the location, among others.
All six subjects were taken into custody and charged with conspiracy to possess more than 300 pounds of marijuana. They were each placed under $500,000 bond.
Nathan Whittle, Delgado's attorney, asked his bond be reduced to a "reasonable amount."
Delgado, who was born in Mexico but has lived in the United States for 18 years, still has a wife and children there. His attorney produced a Nashville business license in an effort to affirm his connections to the community.
But Judge Robert Hamilton noted Delgado remains a "high risk" for flight in his decision to lower bond to $250,000.
Hamilton set a court date of Oct. 9 for the pair to face charges before Judge John Wootten Jr., but Durham noted the district attorney's office plans to fast track the case to the next session of the grand jury.
Hearings for the remaining four suspects were postponed until July 17. Those charged include:
· Yoel Prieto, 23, no address given
· Eduardo Flores, 25, of New Mexico
· Ruben Martinez, 24, of Nashville
· Arturo Meza, 36, no address given
Authorities are still searching for the seventh and final suspect – Jiram Santaella Villareal, 24, of Nashville – whom they believe was the intended recipient of the illicit supply.
Features Editor Sherry Phillips can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 44 or by e-mail at email@example.com.