Jim Wells County sheriff raises concerns over drugs disguised as candy

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal
Mark Martinez

A partnership between law enforcement agencies  and the  U.S. Postal Service (USPS) led to the arrest of a 27-year-old Alice man and the confiscation of drugs and a gun.

The drugs are a concern to Jim Wells County Sheriff Daniel Bueno because they are made to resemble candy.

"It looks like bubble gum. That's a concern to me," Bueno said. "My concern is what is going to happen to our community in five or 10 years from now. We have children being introduced to this substance. They've been introduced by people like Martinez to this kind of stuff. This stuff is being brought in to our small community...You see the drugs packaged like candy and you think it's a package from the (store). It looks like gum or candy and they're introducing them to our kids."

Officers with the JWC Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division assisted by the Alice Police Department Criminal Investigation Division and the USPS Inspector General's Office conducted a narcotic investigation into the shipping of narcotics via the mail to an address in Alice.

As a result of the investigation, Mark Martinez was arrested on Tuesday, April 20 on suspicion of possession of marijuana and unlawful carry of a weapon after deputies conducted a traffic stop on Aransas and Second Street.

During the traffic stop, a JWC Sheriff's Office K9 alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. A vehicle search led to the discovery of two boxes that had been at the post office along with a firearm, Bueno added.

"Whether it's one pound or two pounds or 15 pounds, it's how it got here...It's packaged and shown...That's what scares me. To know that this individual, and he's not the only one there's others out there," Bueno said. "Look at the boxes and see how they were packaged. They did everything they could to disguise and the smell...Looking at how it was sealed, packaged and sent out through priority mail."

According to agents, the marijuana was vacuum sealed, placed in separate envelopes and, then, the contents were covered in a foam in an attempt to conceal the smell.

The boxes, with nearly two pounds of marijuana, were shipped from an out-of-state address where Martinez had recently traveled to, Bueno said.

The traffic stop led to a narcotic search warrant at a home in the 700 block of West First Street in Alice. When police arrived, they temporarily detained a woman at the home until the search was completed. She was then released.

Drugs and gun seized during investigation.

"We're sure that there is more being sent. It's being disguised like this contraband through the post office. The good thing is that we have a partnership with the postal service," Bueno said. "These packages are coming from all over the country. They're targeting our small communities. They're targeting our children whose parents are having problems...(Some) have been introduced to this stuff. They're either high or they can't relate to life. It's a stepping stone to something else."

The partnerships by law enforcement agencies will lead to more combined efforts targeting the sale, consumption and distribution of drugs in Alice, Bueno said.

"We are seeing an increase in marijuana," Lt. Alan Gonzalez said. "For a long time it had gone away and it had been synthetic (marijuana.) In the last few weeks and months, we have, definitely, seen an increase in marijuana."

This case is still under investigation. Martinez may also face federal charges. As of Tuesday, Martinez did not have a bond.