Feds take over investigation after State Police seize 3,300 lbs of marijuana

Feds take over investigation after State Police seize 3,300 lbs of marijuana

Jul. 24—It sounds like something out of a movie: crates stuffed with thousands of pounds of drugs, a clandestine meeting at an airport hangar and suitcases full of nearly $2 million.

Those details and more were revealed in federal search warrant documents as authorities investigate two men caught with more than a ton of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms at the Gallup port of entry last month.

Roderick Piffero, 57, and Erik Weisenseel, 41, are each charged with trafficking controlled substances and distribution of over 100 pounds of marijuana or synthetic cannibinoids in the June 22 seizure.

They were both booked into the McKinley County Detention Center but have since been released on bond. Attorneys for the two men did not comment on the case.

 

According to a federal search warrant affidavit filed in U.S. District Court:

On June 22, Piffero and Weisenseel were stopped in a semitractor-trailer at the Gallup port of entry after a New Mexico Department of Transportation inspector smelled marijuana coming from the trailer. The truck was supposed to be carrying nine crates of salvaged airplane parts but New Mexico State Police discovered 10 crates — full of marijuana, edibles and psychedelic mushrooms.

In all, they seized 3,300 pounds of marijuana, 1,400 pounds of marijuana edibles and 60 pounds of mushrooms from the trailer. Piffero and Weisenseel said they picked up the load in California but their stories differed from there.

Piffero told police he was in the sleeper compartment as they picked up the load in an industrial park. Weisenseel told police he was in the cab and Piffero went to get tacos as two men loaded the truck inside an airport hangar.

The trailer, crates and men's phones were seized as they were booked into jail. From there, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations took over.

The agent learned that in 2014, Piffero was seen being given two suitcases by men who had just left a "stash house" belonging to "a drug trafficking organization" in Philadelphia.

After he was given the bag, HSI agents approached Piffero and questioned him about the suitcases. He "abandoned" the suitcases to HSI agents and they found $1.7 million inside.

It's unclear if Piffero was charged in that incident.