Traffic stop on I-15 near Cedar City yields 8 pounds of heroin, police say

File photo of Utah Highway Patrol vehicle on Interstate 15 near Cedar City, Utah, May 25, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Two people were arrested during a traffic stop near Cedar City on Wednesday morning after law enforcement officers reportedly found heroin inside their vehicle.

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street said the incident occurred at approximately 8:15 a.m. on northbound Interstate 15 a few miles north of Cedar City, near mile marker 68.

Street told Cedar City News a UHP trooper pulled over the driver of a Chevy Malibu passenger car for following too closely.

“During the stop, he became suspicious of criminal activity while speaking with the occupants about their trip,” Street said of the trooper who enacted the traffic stop. 

The trooper then called for the assistance of a drug-sniffing K-9, who responded to the scene along with an Iron County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

“The dog alerted positively to the odor of narcotics coming from the vehicle,” Street said. “A search was conducted and approximately 8 pounds of heroin was located in the trunk area of the vehicle.”

The two occupants of the vehicle were subsequently arrested and taken to Iron County Jail. Daniel Mendiola and America Hickman were both booked Wednesday afternoon on drug possession charges, jail records indicate. Other identifying information, such as their ages and places of residence, was not immediately available. Additionally, a new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained. 

Street said detectives with the State Bureau of Investigation have been called in to follow up on the case.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement 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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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