AMARILLO, Texas (KCBD) - One month after a truck driver was arrested and charged for what Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers said was more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, the case has been dismissed and the driver is suing.
On Dec. 5, 2019, Texas Highway Patrol reported seizing 3.350 pounds of suspected marijuana in boxes which were in the cargo area of the U-Haul. The truck was pulled over for a traffic violation in Carson County near Conway. Today, nearly one month later, a federal court has dismissed the case and have ordered the driver, 39-year-old Aneudy Gonzalez, to be released from jail in Amarillo. It turns out, the load was thousands of pounds of hemp, not marijuana.
Court documents say Gonzalez was also stopped by police in Arizona but was let go when they determined the load to be legal hemp. The same documents say a DEA agent testified not knowing about Texas House Bill 1325, which explains Texas’ hemp law and was confused thinking that the limit for THC in hemp was .03 percent, when according to the law, it’s .3 percent.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Daniel Mahler, released the following statement:
Today we beat the Feds. Our client was indicted in the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo division on a violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(vii) - POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE 1000 KILOGRAMS OR MORE OF MARIHUANA following this stop. We maintained from the word go that all he had was hemp and this morning the US Government moved to dismiss the charges against our client. We will now be seeking the return of property and just compensation for our client losing a month of his life in the custody of the US Marshals.
Gonzalez’s attorney told KCBD troopers and the DEA had no probable cause to arrest Gonzalez.
“Especially in a time right now of immense skepticism of law enforcement, the idea that Texas DPS and ultimately, a DEA task force agent, would have no idea what the law is and people go to jail that are completely innocent is horrifying to me and I do believe it should be for the other citizens as well. That’s the moral of this story.”
Mehler says the Department of Justice and the Texas department of public safety is overreaching.
“They were very quick to trumpet the arrest on social media as if this was a massive marijuana bust, to slander our client as a marijuana trafficker and not an innocent man in America just trying to earn a living," he said. “Just to be clear, I have nothing but respect for the federal government and the way the agents have conducted themselves. They were very forthright and very respectful, but they weren’t clear on what the law is and the idea that we’re going to arrest people and sort it out later is - that’s not how any of this works.”
Gonzalez is expected to be on a plane tonight and back to New York City to be reunited with his family.
DPS released the following statement to KCBD:
Based upon the trooper’s training and experience, he believed the plant material to be marijuana, which warranted further investigation. The trooper contacted Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for assistance. The trooper arrested Mr. Gonzalez, and following further questioning by a DEA Task Force Officer, the DEA Officer adopted the investigation and took custody of Mr. Gonzalez and all evidence.