ST. GEORGE — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper seized 86 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop Monday afternoon just north of Cedar City.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, 35-year-old Channing L. Allen of Strousberg, Pennsylvania, was driving north on Interstate 15 near mile marker 63 when his silver, four-door passenger vehicle caught a trooper’s eye.
The trooper observed that the vehicle was traveling in the left lane with another vehicle behind it and that it “appeared he was impeding the left lane.” The trooper pulled out of the median and caught up to the vehicle, at which point the driver switched lanes behind a semitractor-trailer at a distance closer than two seconds, prompting the trooper to initiate a traffic stop.
The trooper reported he could smell marijuana as he approached the car and made contact with the driver. He advised Allen of the reason behind the stop and his Miranda Rights. Allen admitted to having purchased marijuana and said he had it in the vehicle but did not have a medical marijuana card.
Officials searched Allen’s vehicle, discovering marijuana under the front passenger seat and drug paraphernalia in the center console, including a straw with white residue that the trooper said appeared to be for using cocaine.
Allen was placed under arrest as troopers continued the search. During the search, the trooper discovered a firearm in a pillowcase behind the back seat, as well as a manufactured compartment in the rear of the passenger seat. The suspect told police there was methamphetamine inside the compartment.
Troopers transported Allen and his vehicle to the Section 11 office where the suspect allowed officials to record him opening the manufactured compartment. Law enforcement discovered 47 packages of methamphetamine, totaling 86 pounds. Allen told troopers he was paid $5,000 to transport the illegal substance. Upon searching the Allen’s wallet, troopers also found a bag of cocaine.
Allen reported that the people who built the compartment also gave him the firearm in the pillowcase, the report stated.
UHP Sgt. Nick Street told St. George News that seeing this amount of methamphetamine is concerning for law enforcement.
“It’s disconcerting that drug mules or people transporting drugs across state lines are getting that brazen that they would attempt to transport that amount of such an illicit drug,” he said.
Allen is facing a second-degree felony count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and a third-degree felony charge of unlawful possession, purchase or transportation of a dangerous weapon.
Officials have also charged Allen with misdemeanor counts of altering a vehicle compartment for contraband, possession of a schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance, possession of marijuana or spice and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Allen was also issued a citation for following too closely.
Street said it is possible that this case could become federal.
The trooper has applied for Allen’s continued detention, asserting that the suspect poses a significant danger to the community and is likely to flee court jurisdiction.
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