Troopers in Iron County allegedly find several pounds of heroin, meth during traffic stop on I-15

File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two Colorado men traveling through Iron County were arrested on charges of drug distribution Thursday after police say an estimated $260,000 in narcotics was found during a traffic stop on Interstate 15.

The driver, 24-year-old Juan Alberto Herrera-Salcido, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was charged with two second-degree felony counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, along with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and providing false information. He was also charged with operating a vehicle without insurance, having no driver’s license and a window tint violation, which are all infractions.

The passenger, 30-year-old Sergio Fernando Espinoza, also of Colorado Springs, was charged with two second-degree felony counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, along with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and use or possession of paraphernalia.

The men were arrested after a UHP trooper stopped them as they were driving north in a gray passenger car on I-15 near mile marker 56. The reason for the traffic stop was a window tint violation, according to the probable cause statements filed by the Utah Highway Patrol in support of the arrests.

Herrera-Salcido told the trooper he didn’t have any identification on him and initially identified himself as Christian Alberto Ibarra, which was a false name, according to the statement.

Juan Alberto Herrera-Salcido, 24, of Colorado Springs, Colo. booking photo posted in Iron County, Utah, June 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The trooper wrote in the statement that he found it “highly suspect that a person would not have any type of picture identification on them while traveling a long journey across multiple states.”

Meanwhile, neither the driver nor the passenger could find the paperwork or registration for the vehicle as requested and provided an insurance card that had expired seven years before. Espinoza provided a state-issued identification card out of Colorado.

The trooper wrote that both men “were shaking and seemed very nervous,” adding that he detected a strong odor of marijuana from inside of the vehicle.

Once the trooper ran the license plate and discovered that the vehicle was allegedly registered to another individual, additional units were called in to assist, and the driver was detained for not providing identification.

Sergio Fernando Espinoza, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colo. booking photo posted in Iron County, Utah, June 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

During a search of the car, troopers found two grams of marijuana in the center console, and in the trunk, a “large duct taped package” was found inside a duffel bag containing approximately two pounds of heroin, according to the statement.

The passenger was also handcuffed at that point, and as the search continued, troopers allegedly found more than eight pounds of methamphetamine packaged in 1-pound packages inside a dog food bag that smelled of gasoline.

The narcotics have a combined street value estimated at more than $260,000, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.

The State Bureau of Investigation was notified and arrived at the scene to assist.

The original reason for the stop involved an alleged window tint violation. The trooper tested it using a tint meter, which showed 13% light transmittance. While out-of-state vehicles can pass through Utah with a tint level that is legal in the originating state, in Colorado, the light transmittance must be above 27%.

Both men remain in custody. Bail for Espinoza has been set at $50,000, while Herrera-Salcido is being held without bail.

This report is based on statements from police 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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