ST. GEORGE — A Southern California man is in jail after deputies recovered hundreds of counterfeit fentanyl pills during a traffic stop for a minor moving violation on Interstate 15 in St. George.
Shortly before 2 a.m. Thursday, a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office stopped a vehicle on northbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 5 just north of Brigham Road for a traffic violation.
According to the probable cause statement filed with the court in support of the arrest, while speaking to the driver, the deputy detected the smell of burnt marijuana and asked both the female driver and male passenger to step out of the vehicle.
The deputy noted that the passenger, later identified as 22-year-old Dreshaun Ellisemery Moore, of Beaumont, California, began making “furtive movements” toward his front pocket as well as the front waistband of his pants. He was told several times to put his hands on the top of the car – orders the suspect allegedly refused to comply with until he was threatened with the taser and then forced to the ground.
Moore was handcuffed, and the report states that during a search of his person, the deputy felt a large, hard bulge in the suspect’s front pocket that he initially thought was a handgun but which turned out to be a “large bag of pills” and a bag of marijuana.
Another bag of what appeared to be marijuana was also recovered from the center console of the vehicle, and on the passenger’s seat deputies found an open container of hard seltzer beer.
While speaking with the driver, deputies learned the pair were driving from Las Vegas to Washington County to “drop something off,” but the driver said she had no idea what was being dropped off.
During an interview with Moore, the deputy wrote, the suspect stated he doesn’t use the pills but rather “just drops them off with a friend or hands them out” in the area. The suspect also told deputies he had a “large amount of money on him,” which turned out to be roughly $2,370, including 90 $20 bills.
The suspect was arrested, the alleged narcotics were recovered and the cash was seized as proceeds of criminal activity by police.
The deputy also noted the bag recovered from the suspect’s front pocket contained more than 400 light blue pills marked as oxycodone but which were consistent with counterfeit fentanyl pills.
Moore was later booked into jail facing second-degree felony possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and three misdemeanors, including one count each of possession of marijuana, interfering with arresting officer and having an open container of alcohol. He remains in custody and is being held without bail. The driver was not arrested.
‘An extraordinarily poisonous substance’
There have been a series of arrests involving counterfeit fentanyl pills in Utah, including a case filed in January after an Arizona man, 22-year-old Alarek Bischoff, was arrested in Moab following a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 191 that was set in motion when one of the occupants of the vehicle threw a lit cigarette out the window.
Officers searched the vehicle and recovered more than 200 pills disguised to look like oxycodone but which in fact were the fentanyl drug.
In October of last year, 30-year-old Cottonwoods Heights man, Aaron Michael Shamo, the CEO of a nationwide dark net drug trafficking organization, was sentenced to life in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of organizing and directing a drug trafficking organization that imported fentanyl from China.
The fentanyl was used to manufacture more than half a million fake oxycodone pills that were distributed across the country, including hundreds of thousands of pills sold locally, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.
Shamo distributed the fake fentanyl and counterfeit Xanax tablets to other individuals for distribution in all 50 states using his storefront, “Pharma-Master” on the Dark Net marketplace. During the trial it was determined that at least 90 of the defendant’s known customers died from overdoses.
U.S. Attorney John W. Huber called the fentanyl-laced pills “an extraordinarily poisonous substance.”
This report is based on statements from court records, 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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