According to Chief Ronald Dies, officers responded shortly after 8 a.m. to an accident reported at Laurel Avenue and C.C. Duson.
He said Sgt. Michael Perry and Officer Ivory Lafleur noticed the Hispanic driver of a van which had struck a car from behind appeared extraordinarily nervous. Also assisting on the first response was Deputy City Marshal Steven Moody.
Some jitters could be associated with the fact that the woman driving the other car was nine months pregnant and taken to a hospital.
The officers asked if they could search the van and the driver, Orlando Reyes, 30, of Houston, Texas, they said, consented.
When officers raised the back door of the east-bound van, they found a suitcase. Opening it, they were stunned to find a large plastic-wrapped package of what appeared to be marijuana.
They they called asked via radio for assistance from headquarters.
Subsequent search revealed a second, still-larger suitcase in the back seat, also full of what seemed to be marijuana.
Estimated total weight of the packages by officers who lifted and moved them was about 200 pounds. Subsequently it was established that the packages weighed 157 pounds.
The condition of the other driver was uncertain.
Perry said he learned from the suspect that he was attempting to reach Interstate 10 by turning on La. 13 at Laurel.
Dies congratulated the officers and praised their alert response to the suspect’s peculiar behavior.
“They did a really professional job,” he said.
Reyes is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, illegal presence in the U.S. and careless operation of a motor vehicle.