GULFPORT -- Drug agents seized 13 kilos of cocaine from a courier after a state trooper thought it suspicious that a couple said they were returning to Greenville, S.C., for "another vacation," a court document said.
The state trooper who pulled them over April 18 on a speeding violation remembered stopping them 10 days earlier. On April 8, they'd told him they were returning to Texas from a vacation in Greenville, said the affidavit of a DEA Task Force member.
Alfredo Ayala, 47, reportedly told federal agents he's been a drug courier about 10 years.
He pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment unsealed after he was brought to court.
But during interviews just after his arrest, Ayala told investigators he's been moving narcotics from the Rio Grande Valley, the agent said. Ayala allegedly said he had put 20 kilos of cocaine in his vehicle, left 7 kilos in Alice, Texas, and picked up the woman for a trip to Greenville.
Thirteen kilos is about 28.7 pounds. Twenty kilos is 44 pounds.
Ayala's traveling companion was driving the 2015 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck, but she was not arrested in the recent traffic stop. Drug agents said they determined the woman "truly had no idea of Ayala's criminal activity."
The trooper stopped the pickup on Interstate 10 near mile-marker 34, the exit to U.S. 49.
The two gave inconsistent and suspicious comments so the trooper asked to search the truck, the agent said; the woman said no.
The trooper called for a Harrison County sheriff's canine team. K-9 officer Espo reportedly sniffed narcotics. Drug agents said the cocaine was behind the rear passenger seat, wrapped in 13 bundles of 1 kilo each.
Ayala is held with no bond.
He is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises.
His trial was set Thursday on a court calendar that starts July 5.