A suspicious story given by a motorist during a traffic stop along a local stretch of Interstate 94 resulted in the discovery of 127 pounds of cocaine stashed in a hidden compartment built in the floorboard of the SUV he was driving, according to court records.
The driver, Denis Mesumb, 43, of Toronto, Canada, seemed surprised by the discovery of the drugs and reportedly told police he expected there to be "a lot of money" in the compartment.
Mesumb said this was not the first time he "drops the car off and someone loads it for him and tells him where to go with it," according to charging documents.
He was arrested and charged with felony counts of dealing in cocaine and possessing cocaine, court records show.
Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer set bond Monday at $100,000 surety and $2,500 cash.
Mesumb was still in custody at the Porter County Jail Tuesday morning, according to online records.
An undercover police officer said he was patrolling eastbound Interstate 94 at 8:55 a.m. Friday when he saw a gray passenger SUV change lanes without signalling and following too closely to the vehicle in front of him.
He stopped the vehicle east of the Ind. 49 interchange and Mesumb claimed he was returning from a baby shower in St. Louis without his wife, who is the registered owner of the vehicle, according to court records. He then claimed he had driven to Chicago in six hours and then another three hours to St. Louis, but the officer determined the route described would have taken 18 hours.
Mesumb also claimed he works with autistic children without being asked and then gave consent for a search of his vehicle, the officer said.
The officer said he found the floorboard depth to be noticeably shallow under the third row of seats in the vehicle and the seat to be unusually high, according to court records.
After discovering the carpet was loose and detecting a strong odor of air freshener scent, the officer discovered "an obviously altered flat sheet metal box that ran the entire width underneath the entire 3rd row seat," charging documents said.
Other officers were called in, including members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area unit, and bolts on the metal box were removed, police said. Inside were 47 vacuum-sealed plastic bags wrapped in black tape that contained a white powder that tested positive for cocaine, police said.
Each of the packages weighed 2.7 pounds and were seized by the HIDTA unit.