I-12 drug bust

Photo provided by Louisiana State Police. 

Louisiana State Police seized more than $5 million in cocaine after officers found 55 kilograms of the drug inside an 18-wheeler during a routine traffic stop on I-12 Monday. 

According to the department, authorities stopped a 2005 Peterbilt 387 that was driving eastbound in St. Tammany Parish shortly after 6 a.m. During the course of the stop, troopers became "suspicious of criminal activity," according to a release from state police. 

The driver gave consent for them to search the vehicle, upon which the troopers discovered the stash, estimated to have a street value of $5.5 million. 

Police arrested Melvin Contreras, 32, of Mount Vernon, New York, and Pedro Sarante, 40, of New York City, on drug-related charges, the release said. They were booked into the St. Tammany Parish jail. 

State police referred the case to the Department of Homeland Security for further investigation. 

Email Elyse Carmosino at ecarmosino@theadvocate.com.