Standing inside the Memphis Police Department's Organized Crime Unit conference room with several bricks of marijuana, the stench was overwhelming but what's on the table is only the beginning of what police called a major drug bust.
"The estimated street value of this marijuana is $2 million," MPD director Toney Armstrong said.
On April 1, Director Armstrong said organized crime unit officers conducted a traffic stop and found 100 pounds of weed. It's also what led officers to this major stash - 2100 pounds, $170,000 in cash, a .357 handgun and a few Xanax pills.
"This is a substantial amount of drugs as well as you can see the proceeds so apparently some of it has already been disbursed either here in our city or somewhere else," Director Armstrong said.
The four men arrested - brothers Aramis (36) and Gabriel (24) Diaz, Armando Sauceda (37) and Rene Hernandez (36) - are not U.S. citizens; they are foreign nationals but had established residency in the United States. They were charged with a felony manufacture, delivery, and/or sell control substance to wit: marijuana.
Brothers Aramis and Gabriel Diaz were arrested at a North Memphis home, while Hernandez and Sauceda were arrested during traffic stops.
"It was an extremely bad day for the bad guys," Director Armstrong said.
Neighbors who live directly across the street say they had no idea what was happening inside the Reenie Avenue house.
"It's very disturbing, very, cause I have kids here."
The house is only about 1300 square feet. Police say the suspects were living there, and they also say this investigation is far from over.
MPD has reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency to help with the case.
According to federal court documents this isn't the first time Aramis Diaz has faced drug charges. He was indicted in 2006, pleaded guilty to one charge and spent more than five years in prison. He just finished his probation in March.
The four men are facing state charges, but officials say the case could go federal if they find the drugs were transported over state lines. Investigators are looking into the source of the drugs and with a bust this big involving foreign nationals, federal agents are assisting.
"It's always our goal and it's always our plan to even go beyond that to find the source of the source," Director Armstrong said. "So, if done correctly, a narcotics investigation never ends - it just continues."
This case came down to surveillance, tips, strong planning and strategic execution Director Armstrong added. He says this time the right guys came out on top.
"Just as we come up with more creative ways to seize these drugs and bring the people responsible, manufacturing and distributing them, they come up with even more creative ways to elude us," he said. "It's a cat and mouse game but on this particular day we won."
All four suspects will be video arraigned in court Wednesday morning. Three of the men waived their Miranda rights and admitted to having the drugs.
This was a big bust by Memphis police and they say it will cut into a key source of marijuana. The question now is how did 2,100 pounds of marijuana get to Memphis where's the source? Who are these men working with?
ICE and DEA federal agents could help answer those questions working with the MPD.
As far as the marijuana is concerned, once the case is completed, police say the drugs will be properly burned.
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