By Joshua Fechter Updated 11:48 am, Thursday, September 24, 2015
SAN ANTONIO — The New Braunfels Police Department is rolling out the sleekest member of its vehicle fleet: a seized 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 named “Coptimus Prime” that previously belonged to a San Antonio-based drug trafficker with Mexican cartel ties.
Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Comal County Metro Narcotics Task Force, which includes the police department, seized the Corvette during a 2011 raid on a methamphetamine trafficking cell linked to the Mexican drug cartel La Familia Michoacana.
The cell was responsible for moving 25 pounds of nearly 100-percent pure meth each month that sold for a maximum of $20,000 per pound, mySA.com archives show.
Law enforcement agents estimated that the cell brought in $4.5 million a month for the cartel.
At the time, agents seized 10 pounds of meth, high-caliber weapons, cars and assets valued at $500,000, including more than $140,000 in cash and $31,000 in jewelry, according to news archives.
Among the 15 people arrested during the nationwide sting was Tony Chase Freeman of San Antonio, the Corvette’s previous owner.
Freeman pleaded guilty in January 2013 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in a federal court in San Antonio. He was sentenced in May 2013 to 120 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release.
Following Freeman’s conviction, New Braunfels Police Department was awarded the sports car under a federal program that allows police departments to repurpose assets seized in criminal investigations.
Despite the vehicle’s ability to reach top speeds of more than 190 mph according to TopSpeed.com, the Corvette won’t be used as a patrol car, department spokesperson David Ferguson told mySA.com during a phone interview Wednesday. The sports car is too high profile for patrol use or undercover work, he said.
That doesn’t mean the department won’t show it off: the Corvette has been wrapped to look like a police patrol unit and will be used as a community outreach tool at school functions and local parades as a means to drum up youth interest in law enforcement.
The department decided to name the car “Coptimus Prime” — a play on the name Optimus Prime, the “Transformers” character — after taking suggestions on Facebook.
“I think it acts as sort of a driving billboard that says ‘crime does not pay,’” Ferguson said.
“Coptimus Prime” will make its debut in the Comal County Fair Parade on Friday.
The department plans to auction the vehicle, which maintains its original orange paint job underneath the wrap, after two or three years of use, Ferguson said.
Funds from that sale will be put toward community outreach programs, professional training and equipment purchases, according to a department Facebook post.