Police: $400K in pot intercepted

BUFORD -- A highway police team intercepted more than $400,000 worth of marijuana during a routine traffic stop Tuesday on Interstate 85 near Buford, authorities said.

An officer with the Gwinnett police highway interdiction team pulled over a 1999 Nissan Quest about 8:45 a.m. after spotting the vehicle tailgating another car near Flowery Branch Road, police said.

Talking with the driver, the officer noted "indicators of criminal activity consistent with drug trafficking," and the driver consented to a search, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter.

A search of the vehicle revealed two large trash bags in the cargo area containing seven bales of marijuana, along with two gallon-size Ziploc bags packed with the drug, Ritter said.

The drugs weighed more than 91 pounds, and would fetch about $408,000 on the street, he said.

The driver, Jose Aboytes, is charged with trafficking marijuana, following too close and no drivers license. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond, pending a probable cause hearing scheduled May 20.

Aboytes' age and address are unknown, according to his arrest warrant.

The highway interdiction team formed in 2008, as Gwinnett gained notoriety as a pipeline for illegal drug trafficking, especially from Mexican cartels. In its first 18 months, the team reported drug seizures in excess of $13 million and more than 220 felony arrests.

Last year, police released a study based on the team's statistics indicating drug traffickers are still active but are carrying smaller -- and thus less risky -- quantities of dope.