Traffic stop for reckless driving yields 15 bundles, 22 packages of methamphetamine

ST. GEORGE — An attempt to locate a reckless driver Sunday afternoon became a large-scale drug bust after a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy discovered 15 bundles and 22 packages of methamphetamine.

Eugene Darnell Hughes, 50, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Oct. 13, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy was attempting a white Jeep Grand Cherokee after two callers contacted dispatch around 4 p.m. reporting that the vehicle was driving recklessly on northbound Interstate 15 between mile markers 2 and 8.

The deputy located the vehicle driving north on I-15 at mile marker 15. He observed the driver change lanes multiple times without signaling, as well as straddle the center line. The deputy stopped the vehicle after he observed the driver almost swerve off the left side of the road before jerking the wheel back into traffic.

The deputy reported smelling marijuana during the stop and obtained the consent of the driver – identified as 50-year-old Eugene Darnell Hughes of Kalamazoo, Michigan – to search the vehicle. During the search, the deputy discovered bundles of methamphetamine in the back seat of the vehicle. Hughes was placed under arrest, and the deputy contacted the Washington County Drug task Force for further assistance.

Deputies discovered more plastic-wrapped bundles secured with electrical tape in a duffle bag on the floor of the vehicle in the back of the car. In total, there were 15 bundles. Upon further investigation, officials discovered a large black trash bag with 22 clear sealed packages full of a white crystal substance, which was later identified as methamphetamine.

Officials also discovered a brown substance on Hughes, which was later identified as heroin using a field test.

Hughes was advised of his Miranda Rights and allegedly told officials he had driven from Michigan to Las Vegas, where unknown individuals loaded the methamphetamine into his vehicle. Hughes said he was expected to deliver the packages to individuals in Michigan – whom Hughes also said were “unknown” – for which he would receive $3,000. The payment was split in two: $1,000 in Las Vegas and $2,000 in Michigan.

Washington County officials seized $1,880 from Hughes but ultimately realized a $100 bill in his possession was counterfeit, something of which Hughes denied having any knowledge. The seized amount was decreased to $1,780.

While Hughes was being booked, booking staff also discovered he was in possession of an oxycodone pill, which Hughes said was for headaches.

Hughes faces a second-degree felony count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and two class A misdemeanor charges of possession of a Schedule 2 drug and possession of heroin. Officers also issued Hughes a lane violation citation.

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

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