UHP seizes 30 pounds of marijuana in I-15 traffic stop

Stock photo |St. George News

CEDAR CITY – Two New York men traveling from California were arrested Wednesday on Interstate 15 just south of Hamilton Fort for transporting 30 pounds of marijuana and between 1-2 pounds of hash oil through Utah on their way home.

Clocking the dark-colored Honda Civic at 88 mph, at first the Utah Highway Patrol officer pulled them over for speeding, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrests.

While explaining the purpose for the traffic stop, the UHP officer said in the statement, he noticed a large black pill bottle with stickers on it in the open glove box. Having previous experience finding drugs in similar bottles he asked if he could look at it.

The young men informed him that the bottles were filled with THC-infused candies they purchased while in California, the officer said in his statement. Asking them if there were any other illegal substances in the vehicle, he said, the driver showed him a THC-infused drink, but both the driver and passenger claimed that was all there was.

“I asked them out of the car and did a vehicle search,” the officer said in the statement. “In the passenger compartment I found nothing else of interest at the time.”

Moving on to the trunk, the officer said, he found a large black duffle bag and two large plastic totes full of marijuana, hash oil and paraphernalia. The marijuana was wrapped in vacuum sealed bags and surrounded by dryer sheets in an attempt to mask the smell he said.

In all, UHP seized marijuana worth $170,000 street value, and hash oil worth about $12,000, according to the probable cause statement. Since both men immediately requested to speak to their lawyer, neither suspect was interviewed.

Both the driver, Patrick S. Buschle, 23, of 65 Norway Dr., Rochester, New York, and the passenger, Ethan Peter Will, 23, of 504 West Ave., Brockport, New York, were taken into custody and remanded to the Iron County Jail.

I-15 is a main pipeline for illegal drug trafficking, because of its location and connecting highways, UHP Sgt. Ryan Bauer said.

“If you take a map of of the United States and you look at where the state of Utah and Interstate 15 is …,” Bauer said. “You’ve got all of Southern California and even central California that can connect to the rest of the country by taking 15 north and coming up to either I-70 or I-80.

“Then either one of those freeways connect all the way back to the Midwest and, in fact, all the way back to the East Coast.”

Each defendant faces charges of intent to distribute marijuana and hash oil and possession of marijuana more than 16 ounces, both third-degree felonies; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor. Buschle was also cited for speeding 88 mph in an 80 mph zone.

Since Buschle and Will are both residents of New York and neither of them have ties to Utah, they were considered a flight risk and their bail was set at $25,000 cash only. Buschle posted bail and was released from custody Monday at 1:30 p.m., but as of Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. Will is still in custody.

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