A routine check of a big rig at the Cottonwood scales on I-5, leads to the discovery of millions of dollars in cocaine. On Sunday, it started as a normal vehicle inspection of a tractor trailer..
“We inspect trucks, we are ensuring commercial motor vehicle safety , were inspecting the trucks, we are inspecting the drivers, just to make sure that everything is up to par,” said Lt. Comm. Vincent Zambrana of The California Highway Patrol.
The truck was signaled into the inspection bay at random, where inspectors started to take a look. But this time, it just so happened that another inspector was on scene. A drug dog.
“He was performing what are called ‘random sniffs’ and it alerted upon the truck as the staff was reviewing the documentation for the truck, and alerted to, not the trailer part, but the tractor,” said Officer Paul Nelson of the CHP.
What the dog smelled was cocaine, and a lot of it.
“66 kilograms of cocaine in the tractor frame rails… It's a very large bust, the street value is over 6.6 million dollars,” said Nelson.
The drugs were found in a hidden compartment in the trucks frame. 54 year old Robert Chernochan is now being held on $10-million bail.
The bust was a lucky one considering the amount of vehicles that go through the scales.
“People would be surprised to know that depending on the time of year, we can put 50,000 - 110,00 trucks through this facility a month,” said Zambrana.
Of those, only about 2500 get inspected, but this was not their first stroke of luck.
“Within the last two weeks we actually had a commercial vehicle come through where the driver was intoxicated and we actually made and arrest,” said Zambrana.
The CHP makes about 4 commercial vehicle DUI arrests per year. But they say a drug bust like this one is far more rare.