Deputies Confiscate $120K Worth Of Pot During I-75 Traffic Stop
Collier County Sheriff's Office
Marijuana confiscated during a traffic stop on I-75 Tuesday. Photo by Cpl. Efrain Hernandez/CCSO
A traffic stop by deputies on Interstate 75 in Golden Gate led to the arrest of an east coast man on felony drug trafficking charges and the seizure of more than 40 pounds of marijuana Tuesday.
Ibrahim Michael Makhoul, 24 and of Miami, was arrested and charged with marijuana trafficking in excess of 25 pounds. A second suspect remains at large.
The drug bust began when a Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputy spotted a black BMW with what appeared to be illegally tinted windows traveling in the area of the I-75 toll plaza, according to the arrest report.
The deputy conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on I-75 eastbound near the 94 mile marker. While deputies questioned the driver – Makhoul - and his passenger, K-9 Officer Koffe performed an external sniff examination of the vehicle. Based on the sniff exam, deputies determined there was probable cause to search the vehicle.
When deputies attempted to open the center console it was locked. They also were unable to open the trunk. When deputies asked Ibrahim, the registered owner of the vehicle, how to open the trunk and console, he said he didn’t know. 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 on the locked position.
Deputies flipped the switch to unlock and opened the trunk. A search of the trunk turned up two large black plastic bags. The bags contained small clear packages of marijuana. 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.