By WAYNE THOMAS
A Florida man is being held in the Coffee County Jail under a $506,000 bond after he was arrested at the eastbound scales on I-24 in Manchester Friday morning.
According to police, Oreste Jose Garcia, 51, of Miami, Fla. was charged with felony theft of property, refusal of drug inspection and evading arrest. He is a federal parolee out of Florida.
According to reports by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, trooper Corey Stuart stopped the Freightliner tractor-trailer Garcia was driving around 2:40 a.m. Friday. The officer requested Garcia’s log book and planned to conduct an inspection of the vehicle after noticing what he considered “several suspicious indicators of violations.”
As Garcia went to retrieve the logbook, he fled on foot into nearby woods, the report states.
Trooper Stuart then contacted troopers Charlie Harris and Jason Boles, along with the Manchester police and Coffee County Sheriff’s Department for assistance.
Officers located the suspect at mile marker 117 on Interstate 24, about a mile past the scales, according to the report. The trooper then continued his investigation by inspecting the trailer, discovering 18 pallets of cell phones. After further investigation, the trooper learned that trailer was stolen in Jeffersonville, Ind. The estimated value of the cargo and the trailer is approximately $200,000.
“Cargo theft is a growing concern in Tennessee and its surrounding states,” THP Chattanooga District Capt. David McGill stated. “ I’m proud of the work of our troopers that disrupted this crime and grateful for our partnership with local law enforcement authorities that assisted in the case.”
Sheriff Steve Graves commended his officers for their part in the capture of Garcia. “All of the officers gave chase and they boxed him in at the 117 and our guys got him,” Graves stated.
THP seized the trailer and the investigation is continuing.
Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org