Alert cops score hefty marijuana seizure

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Authorities on Monday credited an undercover officer's watchfulness with bagging more than $300,000 worth of marijuana at a Lawrenceville apartment complex last week.

The Gwinnett police investigator, working a burglary detail in several apartment clusters along Sweetwater Road, witnessed a white Ford Explorer "piggyback" another car to gain entry to a gated complex about 1 a.m. Thursday, police said.

The investigator called in a uniformed officer to question the driver, Sergio Benitez, who presented a Mexican ID card and appeared "very nervous and visibly shaken," said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter.

"(Benitez) indicated that he was visiting a friend but couldn't provide their name or apartment they lived in," Ritter said.

Ritter said the suspect consented to a vehicle search, and the officer soon uncovered three large boxes containing shrink-wrapped bales of marijuana, totaling about 71 pounds. The drugs could fetch about $320,000 on the streets, Ritter said.

Benitez was arrested without incident. He faces charges of trafficking marijuana and is being held without bond for immigration authorities, according to jail records.

He was also ticketed for driving without a license, records show.