11 pounds of marijuana seized after multiple ‘Scent Tree’ air fresheners trigger search

2016 File photo of Washington City Police vehicles on Red Hills Parkway, Washington City, Utah, November, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Officers in Washington City were busy Monday with two vehicle stops that resulted in drug charges. The first stop yielded 11 pounds of marijuana, and in the second stop, officers found heroin and methamphetamine inside of the car, along with three occupants who had active warrants for their arrest.

L-R: Jesus Torres-Lopez, 21, of Beryl, Dario Siqueiros-Hernandez, 32, and Jesus Orduno-Chavez,28, both of Washington City, booking photos taken in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 9, 2019 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The first stop took place shortly after midnight Monday when an officer stopped a vehicle for an equipment violation. The driver, 21-year-old Jesus Torres-Lopez, told police he did not have a driver’s license, Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams told St. George News.

“The driver had no credentials – no driver’s license or any other identification at first,” Williams said.

Lopez then provided an identification card issued by the United States Department of State, but officers were unable to locate a valid driver’s license for him. The two passengers in the vehicle provided identification cards issued out of Mexico, according to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests.

The officer became suspicions when he noticed several “Scent Tree” air fresheners hanging from the roof of the vehicle, a common practice to mask the odor of marijuana, the officer noted in the report.

Once backup arrived, all three men were instructed to exit the vehicle. A Spanish-speaking officer spoke to the men for several minutes about their business in the United States until a K-9 officer was dispatched to the scene and conducted a sniff around the SUV.

“Once the dog indicated to the presence of drugs, they conducted a search of the vehicle,” Williams said.

Officers found a large black garbage bag in the rear section of the SUV, and inside were a number packages of what appeared to be marijuana wrapped in clear plastic packages that Williams called “consistent with packaging used in distribution.”

In Utah, marijuana sells for about $200 an ounce, Williams said, so the total value of the 11-pound seizure is roughly $35,200.

Tucked between the passenger seat and the center console, officers also allegedly found a Ruger pistol, and a pack of ammunition was located inside of the front passenger side floorboard.

“They found the ammunition inside of an empty Doritos bag,” Williams said.

Inside the center console, officers also found a clear piece of plastic that was tied at the top containing what appeared to be cocaine “within arms reach of all three occupants” of the vehicle, the officer noted in the probable cause statement.

Lopez and his two passengers, 32-year-old Dario Siqueiros-Hernandez and 28-year-old Jesus Orduno-Chavez, were taken into custody at that point.

During a search of the suspects, officers found a wallet inside of Lopez’s back pocket that contained what turned out to be a fake identification card issued out of Mexico. The card had an actual photo of the suspect but with a different name, and it was made with a different type of plastic, with markings that were inconsistent with the marking on an authentic ID card.

The trio was transported to jail and each one faces possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a weapon by a category II person, both third-degree felonies, along with misdemeanor charges for drug and paraphernalia possession.

Lopez also faces two additional charges, including one second-degree felony count of forgery for allegedly carrying the false ID card, as well as an infraction for never obtaining a driver’s license.

Chavez and Hernandez were being held on $7,630 bail, while Lopez was being held on $17,000 bail. However, Williams said that since the arrest, an immigration hold has been placed on all three men.

Charles D. Olson, 26, of St. George, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 9, 2019 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Later that same day, officers observed a vehicle parked behind Walmart on Telegraph and noticed a man, later identified as 26-year-old Charles Olson, getting into a second vehicle for a few minutes before returning to his own car and driving away.

The officer stopped the car and arrested three suspects on outstanding warrants, including Olson, who was wanted on seven warrants, five of which were felony warrants. Officers also located small quantities of heroin and methamphetamine inside the car.

Olson was transported to jail and booked on the warrants without incident, Williams said.

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

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