ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As far as dependable smugglers go, these two may not have been the best choice.
New Mexico State Police arrested Julia Sue Thomas, 63, and Cynthia Faye Garcia, 66, in Torrance County on Feb. 15 for hauling 108 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute.
According to the criminal complaint, the pair were instructed to pick up a rental vehicle in Oroville, Calif., not ask any questions about its contents, and drive it to Oklahoma. But all it took was a simple traffic stop for the operation to fall apart.
On Feb. 15, officer Travis Hayes pulled over the black Volvo on Interstate 40 for speeding 10 mph over the limit.
“As I was talking with the occupants, I could smell the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle,” Hayes wrote in the criminal complaint. “Furthermore, I observed what appeared to be an air freshener aerosol can next to the passenger’s feet. This seemed strange given the vehicle was a newer rental car.”
Thomas’ driver’s license number didn’t return any records, meaning her license had been suspended or revoked. The car had been rented by a third party – Jihan Gray – in Sacramento three days earlier.
Hayes’ interest piqued when, after further questioning, Thomas suddenly fainted. Garcia was later described as “incoherent, and gave no statement.”
Thomas and Garcia agreed to a search of the vehicle, upon which Hayes discovered five large black duffel bags containing a “green leafy substance” – later proved to be marijuana.
After receiving medical attention at Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, the women gave their statements to New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau agents.
“Ms. Thomas said she knew a female, Joe, that offered her a chance to earn money…,” according to the criminal complaint. “Ms. Thomas was unable to pick up the rental vehicle due to her not having a valid driver’s license, so she asked Ms. Garcia to help. Ms. Garcia picked up the vehicle, and they both left Oroville, Calif., on Friday morning. Ms. Thomas was to be paid $1,500 and Ms. Garcia $1,000 for driving the vehicle. Furthermore they were given $500 for gas and food up front, and not the rest of the money.”
Thomas and Garcia are being held at the Torrance County Detention Center and were charged with three felonies (third and fourth degree) of distribution of marijuana over 100 pounds, possession of more than 8 ounces of marijuana, and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for today.