Deputies bust U-Haul truck hauling pot

Deputies bust U-Haul truck hauling pot

UKIAH – You’ve got to hand it to Martin Lopez. The 19-year-old from Hawthorne, in Southern California’s South Bay area, pulled over, essentially giving himself up, when his two associates were stopped in a U-Haul truck carrying 50 pounds of processed marijuana.

Lopez was driving a Honda CRV though Ukiah on South State Street at 2 in the morning Saturday, January 10. According to the Mendocino Sheriff’s office, he was following a U-Haul truck driven by 25-year-old Cody Alan Batchelor, who had 30-year-old Francisco Villa with him. The U-Haul truck had Arizona license plates, though that’s not unusual as their trucks are rented and moved all over the country. But a deputy did see a vehicle code violation, and pulled the truck over at 2:21 am. Martin pulled in behind the truck as they were stopped on State Street on the 1300 block, across from the Ukiah Municipal Airport.

When the deputy addressed Batchelor in the truck, he noticed a strong marijuana smell coming from inside the storage compartment. Another deputy spoke to Lopez, and detected marijuana odor coming from the Honda as well. All three men were detained while the two vehicles were searched. 50 pounds of processed marijuana was found in the back of the U-Haul, and a small amount of marijuana, and paperwork from the rental of the truck, was found in the Honda. All three were arrested on suspicion of transporting marijuana for sale.

The most curious aspect of this case is what these three men were doing together. The youngest, Martin Alexandro Lopez, is from Hawhorne, some 500 miles away, and Cody Batchelor was from all the way out in St. Charles, Missouri. Francisco Villa was the closest to being a local – he’s from Kelseyville in neighboring Lake County.

The draw, of course, is likely California’s “Emerald Triangle” – the counties of Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino make up the largest cannabis producing region in the world. And after the fall harvest, there was no doubt plenty to go around if you know who to contact. And there is no doubt that Cody Batchelor knew exactly who to contact.

Cody Batchelor 2013 booking photo, St Charles MO.

Cody Batchelor 2013 booking photo, St Charles MO.

Batchelor has been involved in shipping marijuana from California to his home state of Missouri in the past, according to a 2013 story in St. Peters, MO They quote a St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force as stating he was “an intricate part of a group that has been shipping large quantities of marijuana from California to Missouri for years.” He was arrested then for a 15 pound shipment that was sent to two accomplices, Alana Howell and Joseph Zair-Hanks, as payment for a drug related debt they owed him. Batchelor was arrested in March 2013 for distributing a controlled substance, and outstanding warrants on a drug charge and traffic violation.

And even at 19, Martin Lopez was not a stranger to drug sales. He was arrested just a few months prior, by LA Sheriff’s deputies out of the Lennox station, just north of his Hawthorne home, for possession of a controlled substance for sale.

However these three got together, they were all booked at the Mendocino County Jail on charges of felony transportation of marijuana for sales. Bail was set at $50,000 for Batchelor and Villa, and $15,000 for Lopez.


Deputies bust U-Haul truck hauling pot was last modified: February 5th, 2015 by admin
Categories: Mendocino

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Ken Kiunke

Ken Kiunke is a northern California writer covering Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Sacramento Counties.