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UHP traffic stop results in California drug bust

Published May 3, 2012 8:22 am

Speeding and much more • UHP says it found pot-tainted fortune in cash in suspect's vehicle.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A speeding motorist, a suspicious Utah Highway Patrol trooper, a drug-sniffing dog and a bag a cash led to an interstate drug bust.

UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson said Thursday that Robert Jason Smith, 32, of McKinleyville, Calif., was booked into the Salt Lake County jail for investigation of money laundering and conspiracy distribute drugs after his Monday afternoon arrest on westbound Interstate 80, just west of Salt Lake City.

"About 1:45 p.m., the suspect's Ford Escape was pulled over for speeding and registration violations. The trooper contacted the driver, who was the only occupant, and as they talked became suspicious [due to inconsistent answers]," Johnson said.

A drug-sniffing dog was called to the scene and when it reached the rear hatch area of the vehicle, indicated the presence of marijuana. Troopers found a duffle bag inside the car, stuffed with $215,000 in cash. Johnson said the money is believed to have been tainted with marijuana residue that alerted the dog.

UHP called California's Humboldt County Drug Task Force about the stop, and a subsequent search of Smith's home late Tuesday allegedly turned up 233 marijuana plants.

Drug task force officers also arrested a 31-year-old woman at Smith's home and booked her into the Humboldt County jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale.

remims@sltrib.com