ST. GEORGE — A Utah Highway Patrol officer discovered 6 pounds of controlled substances and a “large amount” of drug paraphernalia after initiating a traffic stop Wednesday near Cedar City.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, 27-year-old Jonathan Isrrael Martinez of Los Angeles was traveling north on Interstate 15 in a rental car just before 4 p.m. near mile marker 62 when UHP trooper Jesse Williams noticed he failed to properly signal when changing lanes.
Williams initiated a traffic stop, at which point Martinez told him the car was a rental but was unable to produce the agreement. The California native said he was driving to Arkansas to work at a bakery, the report said, adding Martinez told Williams he planned to return the car once he got there.
Williams called the rental company and found that the car was due to be returned to a California branch in five days. The officer called for a K-9 to be sent to his location. Martinez gave officers consent to search his car and said he was responsible for everything in the vehicle but told officers he did not have a medical marijuana card.
A certified K-9 was deployed and alerted to the scent of drugs. A search of the vehicle turned up 4 pounds of raw marijuana and 2 pounds of kief – the resinous crystals that cover the cannabis flower, also known as “dry sift” or “pollen” – along with a “large amount” of drug paraphernalia.
The probable cause statement listed the paraphernalia as including glass tubes with corks and labels identifying the contents as different types of marijuana and individual sales of rolled joints. Officers also found $8,500 in the pocket of a jacket lying on the front seat of the vehicle.
Martinez was booked into the Iron County Sheriff’s Office on a third degree felony count of possession of a schedule III, IV, V controlled substance and a class B misdemeanor count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
UHP Sgt. Nick Street told St. George News that a lot of the drug-related activity troopers are seeing originates south of the U.S. border and travels through Utah toward the east coast.
“Utah, with the way the interstate system works and if they’re heading east, is kind of a spot drug runners can’t avoid,” Street said.
However, he added, local interdiction efforts have done a lot to curb trends through the nation. This year, troopers have removed 99,151 grams of meth and 7,386 heroin from Utah roadways. With an estimated street value of $25-50 per gram, troopers have confiscated $3-5 million in controlled substances.
This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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