A contingent of law enforcement stopped a major drug deal from taking place Wednesday and arrested five Mexicans here illegally, according to police.
The drug operation began in Hamblen County, according to Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnigan.
His department had information that the deal, which involved 250 pounds of marijuana, was scheduled to take place in Hamblen County.
During the investigation — which involved officers conducting surveillance on the alleged drug dealers, who in turn conducted counter-surveillance on police — Jarnigan said the location changed to Johnson City.
Jarnigan contacted several agencies — Johnson City Police, Elizabethton Police, TBI and the Tennessee Highway Patrol — to help set up for stopping the movement of the drugs.
When the moving truck hauling the drugs pulled into a business parking lot on North State of Franklin, officers moved in.
Jarnigan said the drugs were compressed and packaged in 10 to 15 pound “bricks,” then those bricks were packaged into larger bales.
“These were big players,” Jarnigan said. In addition to the drugs, officers seized $110,000 in cash.
The five men arrested were Leobard Benitez-Zunica, 29; Angel Israel Cruz-Montes, 24; Adrian Leonide-Artenga, 29; Ignacio Gregorio Moreno-Serrano, 30; and Jesus Pantojas Mulero.
They were taken into custody and transported to the Hamblen County Jail. Jarnigan said the men face charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute marijuana.