Tennessee Highway Patrol Recovers Stolen Tractor Trailer and Property
NASHVILLE --- Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Jonathon Street arrested a Florida man on suspicion of theft after conducting a traffic stop on Friday morning in Unicoi County. The Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department and the Johnson City Police Department assisted on this case.
Abisael Fuentes, 28, of Hialeah, Fla., was taken into custody and charged with felony theft of property, violation of registration and a log book violation. Fuentes was booked at the Unicoi County Jail. His bond is listed at $250,000.
At approximately 11:35 p.m., the THP Fall Branch Communications Center issued a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) on a 2007 Freightliner tractor trailer with the company logo of “Carolina Southern”. Apparently, the truck and trailer had been reported stolen from the Loves Travel Center off exit 412 on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County.
The trucking company officials then notified Fall Branch Communications when the GPS unit on the trailer was on the move and pinpointed the movement as north on Interstate 81 near mile marker 54. The GPS system later indicated the vehicle had traveled onto Interstate 26 eastbound toward Johnson City.
Trooper Street and local law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle on Interstate 26 inside Unicoi County. The initial investigation revealed the driver’s identity and that stolen tags had been applied to the trailer. It was also discovered that the company logo had been painted over with what appeared to have been white paint.
Sergeant Robert Johnson of the THP Criminal Investigation Division was notified and responded to the scene to assist in the investigation. It was determined the trailer contained nearly 550,000 packs of cigarettes with a retail value, according to the company, of $3 million.
Further investigation by Sgt. Johnson and CargoNet™ representative Dereck Magath, revealed that the shipment had originated from Greensboro, North Carolina and was en-route to Peoria, Illinois.
“Cargo theft is a nationwide issue with a significant impact on the United States economy. It is estimated that cargo crime accounts for a direct merchandise loss of $15 to $30 billion per year,” Sergeant Robert Johnson said. “We are proud to have solved this missing cargo case and will continue to thwart cargo theft in Tennessee.”
The stolen tractor trailer is still at large. The investigation is ongoing.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.