Fake FedEx van with trash bags full of marijuana stopped on I-15 near port of entry

More than 1,100 pounds of marijuana packaged in black trash bags was seized from a van stopped by officers of the Arizona Department of Transportation, Washington County, Utah, Feb. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — More than 1,100 pounds of marijuana and nearly $7,850 in cash was seized by Arizona Department of Transportation officers Tuesday after a fake delivery van was stopped on Interstate 15 in northwestern Arizona and processed at the St. George Port of Entry.

Anthony Barreto booking photo, Mesquite, Nev., Feb. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Mesquite Detention Center, St. George News

The driver, Anthony Barreto, 48, was booked into the Mesquite Detention Center in Nevada after ADOT authorities seized multiple large, black trash bags containing the marijuana, along with 5 grams of a mushroom-based hallucinogenic, three vials of illegal steroids and the cash, according to a statement released Wednesday by the agency. Barreto will be transferred to the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, Arizona.

The incident began when an officer with ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division was southbound on I-15 and became suspicious when he observed a van marked as a “FedEx” delivery van traveling north toward the Virgin River Gorge. The vehicle had an out-of-state license plate on the front.

Although the van had authentic-looking markings of the commercial package-delivery service, the officer was aware that all local delivery vans for FedEx have Arizona plates and registration.

A records check on the vehicle indicated it was registered to an individual out of North Carolina, the statement said.

The officer sent out an alert that was picked up by another officer who also was heading north on I-15 and was able to catch up to the van, which was observed committing “several traffic violations as it traveled I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge,” Arizona authorities say. The officer performed a traffic stop on the van as additional ADOT officers arrived.

More than 1,100 pounds of marijuana packaged in black trash bags was seized from a van stopped by officers of the Arizona Department of Transportation, Washington County, Utah, Feb. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News

While speaking with the driver they noted several inconsistencies, at which point a K-9 was called in. Police say the dog alerted to the presence of drugs inside the vehicle, which were discovered during a search of the van.

In Arizona, 1,100 pounds of marijuana has a street value of more than $770,000. In Utah, the value is anywhere from $1.1 million to more than $5 million depending on the quality, according to information obtained from Narcotic News.

In Arizona, transporting more than 2 pounds of marijuana constitutes sales; if it’s more than 4 pounds it’s a class 2 felony.

Arizona Department of Transportation officers enforce laws involving commercial vehicle safety and permits, registration and driver license fraud, and unlicensed auto dealers, among other areas related to the agency’s transportation responsibilities.

Last year, ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division began using K-9 units based out of commercial ports of entry next to California, New Mexico and Utah to help reduce smuggling of drugs and people.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders 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.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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