When Drug Traffickers Don’t Stick to the Speed Limit
Of all the drug traffickers in all the world, Michael Diego “Gustavo” Sena ranks right up there with the very worst. Oh, he’s not evildoer bad, mind you. (Though poisoning a community is pretty evil.) He’s just dumb. So dumb in fact that you begin to wonder just how in the world his handlers ever trusted him with the mission in the first place.
Talk about stinkeroo! Sena got stopped by New Mexico State Police on the infamous I-40, which runs from Barstow, California, to Wilmington, North Carolina. Its 2,5549 miles make it America’s third longest Interstate. They also mean it’s laden with drug traffickers.
Sena happens to be carrying his very heavy load alongside his mom, Delores. Among smarter operatives, the mother and child union could be a good ruse. But this is Sena we’re talking about. And he doesn’t do smarter.
Apparently, neither does mom. To begin with, the pair don’t have their stories straight,. Consequently, the minute the son says they came from one place and the mother says they came from another the trooper knows something is amiss. Second, they smoked weed in the car. Oh, weed’s legal in New Mexico, so there’s no worry there. But it’s still federally prohibited. That puts it in a gray area re: probable cause and search warrants. Worse, it makes Cena and his mom too stoned to outplay a smart officer.
When the trooper claims Homeland Security protocols permit him to search the vehicle, you can almost hear the bell toll. Sure, Sena suspects otherwise. But he’s not 100%. And rather than keep silent and still, he starts getting vocal and animated. When the lawman sees that a certain locked bag is the cause of Sena’s worries, the kid’s toast.
When Drug Traffickers Implode
The thing is being stoned, smelly and without a cover story wouldn’t have even mattered had the two simply not gotten pulled over. But bright boy Sena insisted on speeding. Then, when the trooper got on his ass, he got nervous, blew his horn at a slow moving camper and made his world a whole lot worse.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. The cop had already clocked Sena doing 92 in a 75, so he was going to get stopped regardless. Granted, 17 mph over the limit doesn’t sound like too too much (and in many cases it isn’t), yet it’s still over the usual 10 mph buffer zone. And that attracts attention. Smarter drivers know this. Again though, Sena doesn’t do smarter.
Adding dumb to stupidity (or is it vice versa?), Sena’s car has paper dealer plates. Nobody but bad guys use paper plates these days. And even then they keep it down to a drive-by. To employ paper across any kind of distance is just inviting catastrophe, especially when you’re driving dirty.
And when we say dirty we mean dirty, in name as well as in metaphor. In fact, Sena was trafficking more than 160,000 “Dirty 30s,” as well as a kilo of heroin. He also had two Glocks, an extra mag and a jar of marijuana. But we won’t hold that against him.
Drug Traffickers’ Favorite Interstates
I-40 covers a whole lotta road between Barstow and Wilmington. It hits Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, Tennessee; plus Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Durham, North Carolina. That gives drug traffickers more than enough reasons to make it a favorite.
In fact, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward told The Henryettan that I-40 is one of drug smugglers’ single most favored routes. Much of that is because of the East’s growing appetite for the higher-grade marijuana grown in California and Colorado.
“That high-grade marijuana can be bought in California for $2,000 a pound and sold in New York for $6,500 to $7,000 a pound,” said Woodward. “The legally-grown marijuana also has a higher level of THC, the key ingredient that provides the “high” associated with the drug.”
That doesn’t mean drug traffickers aren’t still moving Mexican marijuana. But since that product sells from $500 to $800 per pound near the border and only goes to $1,500 to $2,000 on the East Coast, well…
Other Heavily-Trafficked Favorite Interstates
When it comes down it, the most heavily-trafficked Interstate really depends upon who’s doing the figuring. Union County, Mississippi Sheriff Jimmy Edwards, for instance, insists Interstate 22 is a “major vein.” But that route only runs between Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee.
Former DEA Agent Erik Smith on the other hand told CBS Austin that his money is on Interstate 10, the 2,460 mile highway which runs from Santa Monica, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. “The I-10 drug corridor is a drug smuggling fact,” said the longtime lawman, who now heads the Kansas Highway Patrol. Little wonder why KFDM used the I-10 drug corridor to launch its series DEA: Fighting on the Frontlines.
If you talk to former Clark County, Indiana Sheriff Jamey Noel however, you’ll hear that “the majority of our drugs, whether it be meth or heroin—it’s coming from I-65.” Since the lawman has spent 26 years interdicting in Indiana, we’ll acquiesce. Since he’s also been featured on A&E’s 60 Days In and in 60 Days In: Narcoland, we’ll acquiesce twice. Then again, since the WAVE’s Mark Stevens tells us the ex-sheriff is now being investigated by Indiana State Police, well, we may just take it all back.
In the end though the top spots have got to go to those interstates that can boast the most miles. That means the true top tier routes for drug traffickers are I-90 (Seattle to Boston, 3,085 miles); I-80 (San Francisco to Teaneck, New Jersey, 2,906 miles); and the aforementioned I-40. As Popular Mechanics notes though, that I-10 corridor stretches from Los Angeles to Jacksonville and boasts 2,460 miles in wide open road, so it does indeed rank right up there.
So do I-95 (Miami to Houlton, Maine, 1,908 miles) and I-75 (Miami to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, 1,787 miles). In fact, there was a time when the two thruways were the drug traffickers’ favorites. And while the 6th and 7th longest interstates do still get their fair share of drug traffickers, the U.S. Coast Guard’s relentlessly effective efforts seem to have forever removed the roads’ “most favored” status.
Drug Traffickers Always Reach the End of the Interstate
Regardless of the road or the cargo, somehow, some way, drug traffickers always reach the end of the interstate. Even the most accomplished mover will eventually get too shaken (or too comfortable) to be effective. They’ll lose their cool or drop their guard or let their mind wander; not only inviting law enforcement to give ‘em a tap, but losing their capacity to handle a stop. It’s bad enough to attract unnecessary attention; being unable to handle a lawman’s questions turns bad to the proverbial worse.
Once that bad wheel starts turning, all bets are off. Every mistake Sena makes leaves him with one less option. It also makes him more and more desperate. When things eventually whittle down to the last and final option, it is of course the worst option ever.
Yep, you guessed it – Sena’s last option is to cooperate. To sing, spill, play ball with the po-po. To rat. Anyone with even a modicum of spine would like to think that they’d stay mum on such an occasion. Then again, hardly anyone has ever really had to face being caged for a few decades. And frankly, until you’re literally in such a position, you simply can’t know just what you would do. You just can’t.
There are some who’ll say their cooperating with authorities indicates a genuine desire to reform. Those folks are merely trying to mitigate away their treachery. That’s impossible. It’s also disingenuous. Any decision to cooperate springs from a desire to avoid being on ice for the next however many years of your life. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Did Sena have a choice? Of course he did. Everyone does. Even when backed into the bleakest corner. Those choices begin with “do we commit a crime or don’t we commit a crime?”. From there they’re supposed to proceed according to common sense.
Unfortunately, Sena’s laundry list of mistakes toe-tags most of his choices before he even gets a chance to make them. As if he’d become a living embodiment of some long forgotten Proverb: “He who makes mistakes forfeits his chance to make choices.”
And boy does Sena make mistakes. Speeding, not coordinating stories, a paper dealer’s plate, smoking pot. In fact, getting high was probably the worse mistake he made. Remember, that weed smoking not only gave the trooper probable cause and diminished Sena’s capacity to handle the situation, but it also quite likely contributed to his not clocking the speedometer. So if you think about it, Sena got popped simply because he got stoned.
It undoubtedly was the worst high of his life.
And that, of course, led to his lowest low. NM Bodycam’s YouTube clip doesn’t say how Sena’s “controlled delivery” played out (or, for that matter, even if it did play out). But the way the story kind of fell off the map would seem to indicate that some cooperation did take place. At this point, it really doesn’t matter one way or another. Because Sena’s very public actions were captured for all of posterity to cherish.
A Judgment Call
Listen, like the mild-mannered trooper who co-stars in this clip, we won’t judge the kid. Not for the drug run anyway. There may have been a, er, legitimate reason why he needed a quick twenty grand. We don’t know. Yes, the fact that this was his third trip to the trough does raise some serious doubt. So does the fact that he had his mom help him road such a heavy load. But again, we don’t know the whole back story.
Heck, we don’t even know the whole front story. We know Sena agreed to cooperate with authorities though. On camera. We also know that’s basically a death sentence, whether he ends up cooperating or not. At the very least, he’s facing some long and incredibly burdensome fear. And for what? Twenty grand?
Forget Sena’s reasons. They’re really not that important. The story is important though. Not because it’s sad or because it’s tragic. (Though there is that.) But because it represents a chronic and incredibly harmful fact of American life – and death. And that fact will remain, so long as our most gullible are being turned into drug traffickers.
Help, Hope & Gratitude
Healing Properties wishes to Thank NM Bodycam for providing the spur for this story. We’d also like to Thank the New Mexico State Trooper who so smoothly and respectfully handled the stop. He never once treated Sena or his mother with anything other than respect, despite their lies, or their crime. That trooper is a stellar example of the American law officer.
We’d also like to extend our deepest hopes and wishes to both Sena and his mom. Again, we don’t know what drove them to do what they did. But we do know that none of it could have been easy. We pray their future isn’t so very hard.
Just as we pray for everyone who runs afoul of drugs and/or alcohol, regardless of the why, where or how. We’ve been helping folks get away from such destruction since 2002, so we’ve seen a thing or two. We’ve also learned that somehow, some way, everyone can be helped. If you’d like an assist, please, by all means, give us a ring.