COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- A Miami man was arrested and charged with marijuana trafficking while another suspect is still on the run following a drug bust along Alligator Alley Tuesday.
According to the Collier County Sheriff's Office, the drug bust began when a deputy spotted a black BMW with what appeared to be illegally tinted windows traveling in the area of the I-75 toll plaza.
The deputy conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on I-75 eastbound near the 94 mile marker. While deputies questioned the driver – 24-year-old Ibrahim Makhoul -- and his passenger, deputies determined there was probable cause to search the vehicle.
Deputies attempted to open the locked center console and were also unable to open the trunk. Makhoul said he didn’t know how to open the trunk. He told deputies that the trunk and console were locked when he purchased the car and that he never tried to open them.
“It’s crazy,” Ibrahim told deputies. “I don’t know how they gave me the car like that, like with the middle thing shut and the back thing shut too.”
Deputies eventually were able to open the center console and they immediately could smell marijuana. Inside they found an unsealed package containing marijuana. They also discovered a switch with the picture of an open trunk lid; the switch was in the locked position.
Deputies flipped the switch to unlock and opened the trunk. They said a search of the trunk turned up two large black plastic bags with small clear packages of marijuana inside. Deputies also located paperwork with Makhoul’s name on them inside the trunk, despite his claim that he’d never been inside the trunk.
During the search, the passenger ran from deputies. He climbed over a nearby fence, swam across a canal and ran into nearby woods. Deputies searched for the man but were unable to locate him.
Deputies confiscated a total of 43.5 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $120,000 from the vehicle.
Ibrahim was placed under arrest and transported to the Naples Jail Center.