The first sign was something was amiss: The Honda passenger car quickly began to exit Interstate 70 after spotting the Utah Highway Patrol vehicle.
According to a complaint filed in federal court Monday, a trooper who pulled the vehicle over Saturday in Sevier County noticed sign number two: The driver’s pants had outlines of marijuana leaves on them and a passenger was wearing a “Santa Muerte” — Saint Death, venerated by some drug traffickers — necklace.
There also was a pendant of Jesus Malverde — considered a folk saint by some Sinaloa, Mexico, drug traffickers — on the key chain dangling from the ignition, according to the complaint.
Occupants told law officers they were traveling from California to Colorado, where they planned to pay traffic fines and visit family, the complaint states.
When the occupants’ stories didn’t match up, UHP Sgt. Rob Nixon got permission to search the vehicle. Nixon found four packages containing about 6½ pounds of methamphetamine near the front of the rear tire on the driver’s side, according to the complaint. Two male passengers were arrested; one has a previous criminal record involving drugs and the other faces deportation. If convicted, the men face a minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison.