Troopers find 25 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills during Summit I-15 traffic stop

Utah Highway Patrol vehicle, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 8, 2022 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — A man and a woman were arrested for drug possession late Sunday night following a traffic stop on Interstate 15 that yielded an estimated 110,000 pills of suspected fentanyl.

Photo of fentanyl pills for illustrative purposes only | Photo courtesy of the Utah Poison Control, St. George News

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the passengers’ arrest, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper pulled over their vehicle while it was driving north on I-15 near mile marker 70 in Summit after observing its front window tint was noticeably darker than the 43% allowed by Utah law. 

The car also had illegal blue lights on the front of the vehicle, the arresting trooper wrote.

“While working on the citation, I began to be suspicious of criminal activity,” the trooper wrote, adding that a second trooper with an accompanying K-9 unit was then deployed.

The K-9 subsequently picked up the odor of narcotics, after which the troopers conducted a probable cause search of the car, according to the charging documents.

The officers found a box in the trunk containing 20 packages of suspected counterfeit M-30 pills believed to contain fentanyl. The total weight of the packaged pills was approximately 25 pounds, with an estimated street value of $2.75 million, the affidavit states.

Stock image of a darkly tinted car window, St. George News

Following the traffic stop, which took place shortly after 10 p.m., the pair were arrested and taken to Iron County Jail. They were identified as Manuel Hernandez-Montes, 41, and Azucena Nevarez, 40. According to the affidavit, they are not residents of Utah.

As of Monday afternoon, both were being held in Iron County Jail, where they face charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony, plus misdemeanor counts of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Hernandez-Montes, who was driving, also faces charges of not having a valid driver license, having unapproved lighting equipment on the vehicle and having window tinting that is too dark.

According to the UHP, the car’s window tint measured at just 6% light transmittance, well below the 43% required by Utah law.

This report is based on statements from court documents and law enforcement officials 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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!