Landrum police make record marijuana bust

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A burned-out taillight led to a record bust last week for the Landrum Police Department, which seized approximately 216 pounds of marijuana that was destined for the Landrum area.

Officer Jason Coffin noticed the taillight was out on a Mercury Marquis traveling westbound on I-26 at about 6:40 Thursday night.

After checking the vehicle tag and finding that it did not match the vehicle, Coffin followed the vehicle as it exited at Landrum. He pulled the vehicle over in the BP parking lot and found sufficient reason, including air fresheners stuffed in the vehicle&squo;s vents, to conduct a search.

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Landrum police dog Bruno wasted little time hitting on the trunk of the vehicle, where Coffin then found 10 large bales of marijuana.

Magana Amrscue Gildardo, 24, of Richland, S.C., was charged with trafficking marijuana, more than 100 pounds but less than 2,400 pounds. He was being held in the Spartanburg County jail, and authorities were checking to confirm his citizenship.

Landrum Police Chief Bruce Shelnet says it was the most marijuana ever seized by the department. Police also confiscated about $800 in cash from the vehicle, which will go into the department&squo;s drug fund.

Shelnut says Gildardo informed them that he had planned to make the delivery in the Landrum area. The police chief says Gildardo may have been taking it to a local distribution point and it later would have been sold throughout the area.

He says he&squo;s not surprised to find so much marijuana being transported through the area.

&dquo;It&squo;s up and down the interstate. It&squo;s always been on (I-85) and (I-95). I-26 has been quiet, but now it&squo;s picking up and they&squo;re branching out,&dquo; says Shelnut. &dquo;This is proof right here what&squo;s on the interstate. It&squo;s out there every day.&dquo;

The increase in drug transport on the interstate has led many local jurisdictions to increase their interdiction efforts on the interstates, he says.

Whenever two vehicles are on a shift, Shelnut says the Landrum Police Department tries to put at least one of them on the interestate for part of the shift.

Based on the amount and the packaging, Shelnut says it&squo;s obvious the marijuana seized last week came from a large operation. He says Gildardo indicated he had been traveling from Atlanta.

&dquo;This is a professional operation. This is not a one-shot deal,&dquo; said Shelnut.

The bust was the latest made by Bruno, who joined the department about 10 months ago. Shelnut says Bruno has assisted in a variety of cases involving marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack and other drugs.