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31-year-old facing three drug felonies

Area drug task force seizes 6 pounds of marijuana; bail set at $250,000

STERLING – A Sterling man was in Lee County Jail Wednesday after police say he received a package Monday containing about 6 pounds of marijuana worth about $24,000.

Mariano Garcia Arellano, 31, was being held on $250,000 bond, charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, trafficking marijuana in excess of 5,000 grams, each of which carries 4 to 15 years in prison, and possession of 2,000 to 5,000 grams of marijuana, which carries 3 to 7 years.

U.S. Postal Service workers noticed a suspicious package being sent from the Los Angeles area to Arellano, and notified authorities, Master Sgt. Todd Shaver of the Blackhawk Area Task Force said.

“The package delivery services know more about what we’re sending than we think,” Shaver said.

A drug dog hit on the package, a federal search warrant was obtained and officials found the 6 pounds of medical-grade marijuana, which sells for up to $4,000 a pound, he said.

“That’s the problem nowadays,” Shaver said. “Most of your drugs are probably traveling through the package delivery services – whether it’s the Postal Service, FedEx or UPS.

“There’s tons of it. Literally tons of it. People know they’re rolling the dice when they send it.”

Task force members were on hand when the 30-by-30-inch package was delivered, and took Arellano into custody. No additional arrests are expected, Shaver said.

Although the arrest was made in Sterling, Arellano is in Lee County Jail because the case is “multi-jurisdictional,” Shaver said.

He has a preliminary status hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Lee County Court.

Arellano was convicted in Whiteside County in 2003 for aggravated discharge of a firearm, for which he was sentenced to 6 years, and in 2009 for aggravated battery, for which he got 2 years, 6 months.

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