ST. GEORGE — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper seized a kilo of cocaine during a traffic stop of a vehicle carrying two adults and two small children on Interstate 15 Friday evening.
A couple and their two children, ages 6 and 8, were traveling north on I-15 near the Southern Parkway Exit when their Nissan Altima caught the attention of a UHP trooper who stopped the car for following too close, according to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests.
The driver, 36-year-old Braulio Arrendondo-Bojorquez, of Bakersfield, California, told the trooper he did not understand any English. However, when asked for a driver’s license, he was able to communicate to police with assistance from his two children who were sitting in the back seat of the vehicle that his license was suspended on a DUI case.
After contacting a translator, the man told troopers he and his family was heading to the funeral of his wife’s aunt, but when questioned further, he was unable to provide the location where the funeral was being held, and “did not know the name of the aunt who passed away,” the trooper noted in the report.
The man also said they were meeting someone near the Interstate 70 exit and were going to follow them to where the funeral was being held.
During the encounter with the driver, the trooper became suspicious and, with consent from the driver, advised the front seat passenger, Crispina Gamez-Camargo, 38, also of Bakersfield, that the vehicle was being searched and that she and the children would need to exit the car. The passenger grabbed her purse as she did so.
The trooper advised the woman that he would need to search the purse as well, and when she handed it over, he noticed it “was extremely heavy,” according to the report. Inside of the purse, he found a kilo of what appeared to be cocaine. Both adults were then placed in handcuffs and a Division of Children and Family Services caseworker was called out to pick up the children.
“It is sad that the children were exposed to the criminal element and had to go through that,” UHP Sgt. Jake Hicks said.
The couple was then interviewed by agents with the State Bureau of Investigation and booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility where they remain on $10,000 bail each.
In Utah, the cost of a kilo of cocaine, which is roughly 2.3 pounds, or 1,000 grams, is $26,000 and can carry a street value of more than $100,000 if sold by the gram at the estimated retail cost of $100, according to Narcotic News. Additionally, Columbia remains the primary source for the majority of cocaine seized and tested in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
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