In 3-day span, UHP trooper pulls over 2 vehicles transporting approximately $1.5 million of meth

Utah Highway Patrol vehicles, Cedar City, Utah, July 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Two recent traffic stops in Iron County just three days apart resulted in the detection and confiscation of approximately 34 pounds of methamphetamine with a total street value estimated at more than $1.5 million.

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Adam Gibbs enacted both traffic stops on northbound Interstate 15 north of Cedar City, with the first one occurring early Thursday morning and the second one taking place Sunday morning. Although the two incidents share numerous similarities, law enforcement officials have not stated any correlations at this point.

In the Thursday incident, Gibbs pulled over a silver four-door passenger car for speeding near mile marker 71. The car was traveling 91 mph in an 80 mph zone, Gibbs wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in support of the driver’s arrest.

“I observed in plain sight a marijuana wax e-cig in the center console,” Gibbs wrote. “I asked both occupants if they had a medical marijuana card and the driver and the front-seat passenger … told me they did not. I performed a probable cause search of the vehicle and located 5 pounds of suspected methamphetamine in the trunk in the luggage.”

Another 15 pounds of methamphetamine was subsequently found hidden under the vehicle’s seats, the statement added, noting that the 20 pounds of methamphetamine seized had an estimated street value of more than $900,000.

Booking photo of Adan Osvald Pavia, posted May 23, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The 22-year-old driver of the vehicle, identified as Adan Osvaldo Pavia, and his 21-year-old passenger, Jesus Urvina Davila, were both arrested without incident and subsequently booked into Iron County Jail.

The men, who reportedly have ties to Mexico, were allegedly transporting the drugs from California to Nebraska, the probable cause statement said.

Three days later, on Sunday morning, a similar situation unfolded when Gibbs pulled over a black pickup truck with Iowa license plates near mile marker 66 on northbound I-15. According to the probable cause statement filed with 5th District Court, the traffic stop was enacted because the vehicle had what appeared to be excessive window tinting and because the front-seat passenger was seen not wearing her seat belt.

“During a records check I found that neither subject had a valid driver license,” Gibbs wrote in the affidavit. “I also found inconsistent travel plans and I began to be suspicious that the occupants were involved in criminal activity.”

Booking photo of Eliuth Rizo Morales, posted May 26, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

With assistance from Cedar City Police Cpl. Kirk Lovell and his drug-sniffing K-9 partner Max, a search of the vehicle yielded several packages of methamphetamine with a total weight of approximately 14 pounds.

The driver of the truck, identified as Eliuth Rizo Morales, 35, and his passenger, Crystal Rizo, 38, were arrested and later booked into Iron County Jail on suspicion of various drug charges, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony.

Morales is also accused of providing false information to police, as he allegedly produced a fraudulent driver license when initially questioned. In addition, urine sample taken from Morales reportedly tested positive for methamphetamine, the charging documents state.

Booking photo of Crystal Rizo, posted May 26, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The pair, who are reportedly homeless with no permanent address, were allegedly transporting the drugs to the Midwest, possibly either Kansas City, Missouri, or Sioux City, Iowa, the charging documents state, noting that the 14 pounds of methamphetamine would have an estimated street value between $520,000 and $900,000 if sold in that area.

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.

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


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