I-80 bust nets $1.7 million in pot

RENO - A drug bust on U.S. Interstate 80 netted more than $1.7 million worth of marijuana when a suspicious state trooper and a drug-sniffing dog found a secret compartment in a semitrailer truck.

Nevada Highway Patrol officers arrested two California men just east of Reno on Saturday after the 25 bundles of marijuana were discovered in the false compartment of the refrigerated trailer hauling produce, Trooper Chuck Allen said Monday.

The 355 pounds of marijuana, divided into bundles of 7 to 34 pounds each, had an estimated street value of $1.775 million, he said.

A patrolman stopped the 1999 Freightliner tractor pulling the trailer on I-80 near the Mustang interchange when he noticed the driver failing to maintain a travel lane at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday.

The trooper observed the driver and passenger acting "extremely nervous," Allen said. He also spotted some discrepancies in the driver's log book and shipping papers.

After receiving written permission from the driver to search the trailer, a narcotics detection dog was called in, and promptly located the marijuana in a secret compartment near the front of the trailer, Allen said.

Jose Noel Victoria, 24, West Covina, and Jovanni Mendoza, 24, Bakersfield, were being held in the Washoe County Jail in lieu of $52,410 bond, each. They were booked on a series of charges related to possession and trafficking of marijuana.


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