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Dog sniffs out marijuana on bus

The soft-sided sports bag at the Greyhound bus station piqued Quick's interest.

The 3-year-old Belgian shepherd scratched at the bag with a paw, a signal that it might contain something besides gym clothes. Quick was right.

During a random search Thursday, the narcotics-detecting dog assigned to the Pinellas County Narcotics Bureau led detectives to 40 pounds of marijuana hidden in the bag.

Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita estimated the street value of the marijuana at $153,600.

The bag was left unclaimed in an overhead rack in a Greyhound bus. The bus stopped about 1 p.m. at the station at 2811 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. on the way to Brandon.

"When no one claimed the bag, it was taken off the bus," Tita said. "It was taken outside, and the dog alerted to it. That's when it was searched."

No name or identification was on the bag, and no one was arrested.

The marijuana was packaged in plastic freezer bags, and the bags were stuffed among clothing.

Tita said detectives, through an agreement with Greyhound, have been randomly checking buses for drugs for about 18 months. Baggage compartments and the passenger areas are routinely checked.

"One of the reasons is that this could be an avenue for transporting drugs that law enforcement might not look at," he said. "What we're finding is that we're taking a lot of drugs off the street."

He would not say if there appears to be a pattern to drug-trafficking through Clearwater, but it was the third time this month that drugs have been found at the station.

An Orlando man was arrested Feb. 9 after 87 grams (a little more than 3 ounces) of cocaine was found in his jacket. The man was on a bus bound for Naples.

Two Fort Lauderdale men were arrested Feb. 5 after detectives found 14 ounces of crack cocaine and 14 ounces of marijuana in a suitcase.