Authorities say liquid meth new drug of choice for traffickers

A traffic stop along I-35 turned into a massive drug bust after liquid meth mixed with gasoline was found inside of a truck’s gas tank. Authorities say it seems that liquid meth is becoming the new drug of choice for traffickers.

Detective Brett Tableriou with the Austin Police Department’s Criminal Interdiction Unit says, "Of course the liquid method, you know, is a lot easier to conceal because you can look in the vehicle, you're not going to see anything in there.”

APD's Criminal Interdiction Unit pulled over a Dodge Ram on I-35 in North Austin on December 7. Officers say the driver, 44-year-old Richard Martinez, gave some signs of deception so they asked to search his vehicle and were given consent.

A narcotics K-9 gave an immediate alert on both sides of the truck, near the gas tank.

"It's basically like if you've ever looked at oil and water in a glass and the separation that takes place. The methamphetamine will sink to the bottom of the gas tank and the fuel is on top, which gives the vehicle enough gasoline to work with that it can still operate. However it's greatly diminished the carrying capacity so they have to make quite frequent stops in order to keep refueling," Detective Tableriou says.

Officers say they found approximately 40 to 50 kilos of liquid methamphetamine. It has a street value of about $4 million.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says what's new is the innovative methods in which the drug is concealed.

The DEA’s Greg Thrash says, "This is one of the first times, if not the first time that we, at least Austin law enforcement circle, have seen the methamphetamine actually being suspended in the gasoline. Many times we'll see it being transported in liquid form but it's in some form of reservoir or some sort of container."

A similar bust was made by Fayette County law enforcement recently as well. A traffic violation led to liquid meth being found in a hidden compartment near a truck's fuel tank. The Fayette County Sheriff's Office says it also had a street value of $4 million.

That means $8 million worth of liquid meth has been seized in Central Texas in less than a week.

APD had its first ever liquid meth bust back in March.

Video shows officers as they cut into the gas tank. Eight to 10 gallons of liquid meth was housed in a false compartment. The liquid meth found had a street value of up to $4 million.

Thrash says, "Most of the time, these large seizures we're able to...because of different investigative techniques...we're able to link it to an investigation. Whether it be in Dallas, or Chicago, or Atlanta, or somewhere else. So we work very well with APD and what we do is just try to expand the investigation."

Martinez is being held by U.S. Marshals on federal charges.

FOX 7 is told that officials believe that the liquid meth is being exported from Mexico.


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