The smell of grilled onions did little to mask more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana discovered at a vehicle fire south of Freer Saturday afternoon.
In a joint effort with the Duval County Sheriff's Department, Freer police officers arrived at the scene of a tractor-trailer fire six miles south of Freer on State Highway 16. The 911 call came in shortly before 7 p.m.
When law enforcement and Freer Volunteer firefighters arrived, the truck was still attached to the the flat bed trailer on fire. The trailer was hauling a large amount of onions, which were secured to the trailer and placed under a large tarp.
The officers helped the driver, 57-year-old Lionel Matthews, unhitch the truck from the flaming trailer. Freer Police Chief Roy Salazar said by the time they were able to disconnect the truck from the trailer, the flames on the back axel burned through the wooden floor boards of the trailer.
“Large bundles started falling down through the floor,” Salazar said. “The officer arrested the driver and the firefighters were able to put the fire out quickly.”
A total of 3,129 pounds of marijuana were recovered, with an estimated street value of $1.5 million.
Matthews, a resident of Corsicana, was charged with possession of a controlled substance over 2,000 pounds and taken to the Duval County Jail.