In what police are calling a “rare” seizure, a routine traffic stop early Sunday in the New York City borough of Queens led officers to more than a quarter-ton of marijuana.
Two officers in an unmarked car noticed a white 2010 Dodge Caravan run a red light and make a quick turn without signaling at about 4 a.m. Sunday, reports Mosi Secret of The New York Times. Officer Jason Zummo said he tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver sped off, leading them on a five-block chase.
The Caravan drove onto a dead-end street, where the drive jumped out and fled on foot. The officers grabbed him as he was trying to scale a fence. Officer Zummo claimed Hunter resisted arrest, struggling to avoid being handcuffed, reports Jano Tantongco of The Queens Courier.
The cops said they then noticed 10 large black trash bags inside the vehicle. One of the bags was partially open, and one officer claimed he saw green cellophane wrap showing. At that point, police discovered the marijuana, they said.
Each of the 10 large bales weighed about 50 pounds; the total weight of the cannabis was 513 pounds, according to the police. The entire back of the van was full of square bundles of pot.
The driver was identified by the cops as Clement Hunter, 30, of Jamaica, Queens. He didn’t make any statements at the scene, according to officers, who said they didn’t know where he was going with all that marijuana, or where he got it.
Hunter was charged with 50(!) counts of felony possession of marijuana in the first degree, according to police, who said the charge was rare, because a suspect has to have 10 pounds or more o0f pot to qualify for the first-degree charge.
Hunter was also charged with reckless endangerment, fleeing officers in a motor vehicle, unauthorized used of a motor vehicle, and criminal possession of stolen property, the latter two charges because he was driving a rental car registered to someone else, police said.
Hunter “has a history of drug busts,” report Rocco Parascandola and John Lauinger of the New York Daily News, claiming that Hunter has “several prior arrests, including one for for driving while impaired by drugs.”
He was arrested on two different occasions for carrying drugs and a loaded firearm, police sources told the Daily News. One of those busts — which included charges of forgery and larceny — landed him in prison in 2003, according to state records. He was paroled in 2007, according to records.
Melissa Correa, the legal owner of the vehicle and an employee of National Car Rental, told police that the car was a rental and was not registered to Hunter’s name.
Despite reports of 50 counts, the DA said Hunter was arraigned Sunday on only one felony count of marijuana possession. Judge Joseph A. Zayas set bail at $50,000.