ST. GEORGE — Authorities in Washington County intercepted approximately 25 pounds of methamphetamine and 4 pounds of heroin with a combined estimated street value of more than $2 million during a traffic stop Sunday on Interstate 15.
At 10:09 a.m. Sunday, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped a vehicle for illegal window tint on northbound I-15 near milepost 1, just past the Utah-Arizona border, according to a probable cause statement filed by UHP officials in support of the arrest.
The trooper spoke with the driver identified as Arturo De Paz, of Riverside, California, the trooper wrote in the sworn statement, noting:
Neither the driver or passenger could provide registration or insurance documents for the car. Instead, they provided a receipt from a dealership.
After authorities found discrepancies in De Paz’s and the passenger’s story regarding their travel plans, they asked for and received consent to search the vehicle, the report states.
“I located 28 bundles of suspected narcotics hidden throughout the vehicle,” the trooper wrote. “The bundles were in many different factory voids.”
After weighing and testing the bundles, authorities recorded 25 pounds of meth and 4 pounds of heroin, according to the statement.
De Paz claimed ownership of the drugs and told officials the passenger had no knowledge of the drugs, the report states.
De Paz also told officials he had meth in his sock, the report states, and that he had instructed the passenger to break his pipe as they were being pulled over, leading officials to believe he had recently used drugs.
In addition to being issued a warning for his window tint, De Paz was arrested and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court accusing De Paz of two second-degree felony counts of drug possession with the intent to distribute, along with two class B misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a measurable controlled substance.
Officials said they expect the incident will become a federal case.
De Paz appeared before 5th District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox for his initial appearance Monday. Wilcox ordered $10,000 bail for his release pending trial.
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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