ST. GEORGE — Utah Highway Patrol troopers arrested a man early Thursday morning after discovering more than 100 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car.
A UHP trooper, whose name is withheld in this report due to the sensitive nature of his position with UHP, conducted a traffic stop on a silver passenger car driven by Diego Viera, of Fresno, California, after noticing the vehicle had no taillights. The trooper approached the car and spoke with Viera, and Viera told the trooper he was unaware of the missing taillights, according to a probable cause statement filed by the trooper in support of Viera’s arrest.
Viera also told the trooper the vehicle was a rental and that he had lost his driver’s license, the trooper said in the statement. When asked to write down his identifying information for the trooper, Viera gave him the name Raymon Viera.
“As he was writing this down, I could see that he had to stop and think about the birthday as well as the name,” the trooper said in the statement.
The passenger in the car, 20-year-old Marlina Simental, said her grandmother had rented the car, and she gave the trooper the rental agreement. The two said they were traveling to Illinois to visit family, but neither was sure where exactly in Illinois they were going.
After running the name and date of birth Viera provided, the trooper said no matches came back, but Viera repeatedly told the trooper that was his correct name. Since he could not be correctly identified, Viera’s was checked for weapons.
During the check, the trooper located a wallet containing large amounts of cash as well as two different California state ID cards — one for a Ramon Viera Jr. and another for a Diego Viera, the trooper said in the statement. When asked whom the cards belonged to, Viera said one was his and the other belonged to his twin brother.
“I could visually see that the dates did not match up to being twins, and that (Viera) was a match to the California ID card,” the trooper said in the statement.
Viera was placed under arrest for incorrectly identifying himself as his brother. When asked if there were any illegal items in the car, Viera told the trooper there were not.
The trooper told Viera there was a K-9 unit on the way to the scene and that the unit would search the vehicle.
“After a moment, Diego said he wanted to be honest with me and admitted that there was a lot of drugs in the trunk of the vehicle,” the trooper said in the statement.
After opening the car’s trunk, the trooper found three large trash bags containing vacuum-sealed bags filled with a green, leafy substance suspected to be marijuana. The weight of all three bags was approximately 100 pounds, according to the statement.
The vehicle containing the drugs was towed to the Utah Highway Patrol facility in Hurricane for further investigation.
Viera was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Facility, charged with possession of 100 pounds or more of marijuana, a second-degree felony; providing false information to an officer, a class A misdemeanor; driving on a suspended license, a class B misdemeanor; and driving without working taillights, a class C misdemeanor.
Viera was being held on $10,420 bail but has since posted bond and been released from custody, according to current bookings information. (See ed. note)
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Ed. note: Bail and custody information updated Nov. 21, 10:50 p.m.
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