St. Louis County traffic stop leads to major drug bust, two arrests

ST. LOUIS – Two people are behind bars after a recent traffic stop in St. Louis County led authorities to a shipment of illegal drugs.

Francisco Manuel Mata-Martinez, 41, of El Paso, Texas, and Maricela Vazquez-Vargas, 38, of St. Louis, were charged with felonies in the case.

The traffic incident occurred on an unknown date earlier this month on Interstate 44.

Before the arrests, DEA agents passed a tip to St. Louis law enforcement that Mata-Martinez was a possible drug mule. Police then stopped a vehicle linked to Mata-Martinez and a stun dog alerted officers to any suspicious substances.

According to the affidavit, officers found a duffel bag containing seven packets totaling 8.5 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, 40 packets containing 25.7 kilograms of suspected methamphetamine and 1.2 kilograms of suspected ketamine.

Vazquez-Vargas then arrived at the 4200 block of Delor Street in St. Louis to meet for an alleged drug shipment. Police later arrested Vazquez-Vargas and found a kilogram of cocaine in her home, according to the affidavit.

Mata-Martinez was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, a possession count with intent to distribute fentanyl, and a possession count with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Vazquez-Vargas was charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Both are expected to appear in court on February 23. They face up to 40 years in prison and a $15 million fine. St. Louis County traffic stop leads to major drug bust, two arrests

Sarah Y. Kim

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