Plea deal proposed in bulk marijuana case

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The public defender representing a New Mexico man accused of possessing approximately 166 pounds of marijuana in Texarkana, Texas, last year announced Wednesday that a plea agreement has been reached.

Francisco Gutierrez, 30, appeared with Assistant Public Defender Clayton Haas for a regularly scheduled pretrial hearing Wednesday morning before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell on a charge of possession of marijuana, over 50 but under 2,000 pounds. Haas told Tidwell that his client is ready to enter into a plea agreement with the state.

Tidwell scheduled the case for a hearing Feb. 11 and ordered county probation officials to prepare a presentence investigation report. The report will include information regarding Gutierrez’s background, criminal history and other information about his life. The offense is punishable by two to 20 years in prison but probation may be an option.

Gutierrez was arrested Sept. 27 after a Texarkana, Texas, police officer noticed he was driving around in a pickup truck in a “high narcotics area” and appeared to be lost. The officer pulled over the white F-250 truck Gutierrez was driving after observing several alleged traffic violations, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Gutierrez allegedly told officers that he was in Texarkana from Dallas to look at “a very expensive Lincoln Welder” his boss might want to buy. Gutierrez allegedly claimed that he had no driver’s license, money or wallet with him on the trip and allegedly gave the officers an incorrect date of birth for himself.

After finding some aspects of Gutierrez’s account of his travel implausible, officers called for a police canine. The dog, Rossi, alerted to the presence of drugs in the truck. Officers found numerous vacuum sealed packages inside of the “fuel tank/toolbox” in the bed of the truck.

“I asked Gutierrez if he could help officers with how to retrieve the illegal drugs out of the toolbox and he advised he would if he could have a cigarette,” the affidavit states. “I retrieved Gutierrez a cigarette and he advised we had to take the spare tires out of the bed of the truck and there was a hidden door on the bottom of the toolbox to access the inside.”

Officers recovered 166 vacuumed double sealed rectangular bricks of green leafy substance from the toolbox. Gutierrez has been in custody since his arrest.

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