GULFPORT -- A man reportedly found with 15.7 kilos of cocaine in a Gulfport traffic stop had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border the day before, a court document said.
Alexander Montano, 38, also known as Alexander Montano-Morejon, is held for federal marshals pending preliminary and detention hearings Thursday in U.S. District Court. He is believed to be from Florida.
The estimated street value of the 15.7 kilos (34.6 pounds )of cocaine could easily be tens of thousands of dollars.
A federal drug agent's affidavit alleges Montano went to Mexico on Saturday, crossed the border again Sunday and was stopped in Gulfport 22 hours later.
He was arrested Monday afternoon after he was pulled over on Interstate 10 near mile-marker 36, the affidavit said.
A Gulfport officer assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force reported he had stopped an eastbound 2008 Buick Enclave with a Texas tag registered to a Laredo, Texas, man. Montano had a driver's license with a Lakewood, Fla., address and said he had just obtained the SUV from a friend, the document said.
The officer checked resources that allegedly showed Montano had taken I-10 through Mississippi in the same SUV on Saturday.
Montano agreed to a search of the Enclave, and the officer allegedly noticed suspicious signs on its undercarriage. The officer found a "hydraulic aftermarket hidden compartment" or "trap," built under the rear passenger seat area, the affidavit said. The officer reported the hidden area contained several packages of a white powdery substance.
The SUV was taken to the Gulfport Police Department's maintenance building, where a DEA agent and task force members dismantled the "trap" and weighed and field-tested the substance.
Further investigation revealed Montano has crossed the U.S.-Mexico border 18 times in the past year and has made one trip to Cuba, the affidavit said. The data showed he had left Mexico via the Laredo International Bridge early Sunday night and had done so four other times in the same area and at the same time of day.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo spoke to Montano through an interpreter during an initial court appearance Tuesday and appointed a public defender to represent him. Prosecutors want him held without bond.