Summit County sheriff’s deputies arrest two in drug bust on I-80 |

Summit County sheriff’s deputies arrest two in drug bust on I-80

The California men are facing felony charges of possession with intent to distribute

Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies seized more than 5 pounds of methamphetamine and a quarter pound of cocaine during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 on Monday night that led to a manhunt and the arrest of two California men.

Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said a deputy stopped the vehicle for several moving violations. When the deputy made contact with the 35-year-old driver, the driver provided a false name. A K9 officer was also on the scene providing backup, and the dog indicated that it smelled narcotics in the vehicle.

Deputies removed the driver and his brother, a 48-year-old passenger, from the vehicle and conducted a probable cause search. Wright said the men, who had not yet been placed under arrest, were put inside a patrol car to keep warm.

During the search, deputies located a duffle bag filled with narcotics in the trunk. They returned to the patrol car to speak to the driver and discovered he had fled on foot. The passenger did not attempt to run and was compliant with deputies, according to Wright.

A large search involving the Sheriff’s Office, the Park City Police Department and its drone, and the Utah Highway Patrol began north of I-80 in the Silver Creek area with deputies tracking the suspect’s footprints in the snow. For nearly two hours, deputies searched the neighborhood by knocking on doors and looking in trailers and barns.

The suspect was ultimately located by a resident who had gone outside to care for their horses and saw his face underneath a horse trailer. Deputies retrieved the 35-year-old, who had lost his shoes and shirt during the chase, and believed he was suffering from hypothermia. Wright said they also suspected he may have ingested two unknown objects believed to be narcotics.

The 35-year-old driver was transported to a Salt Lake-area hospital but was set to be released into police custody on Wednesday.

Both men denied having any knowledge of the contraband in the vehicle. Wright said it’s common knowledge that drug runners use I-80 to move narcotics from California east toward the Midwest — the direction the vehicle was traveling — and head back west once they receive cash.

A search of the driver’s wallet also revealed a fake Social Security card with another person’s name, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Court documents show the driver faces two charges of possession with intent to distribute, both a second-degree felonies, and failing to stop at the command of law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor. Deputies also performed a records check that revealed the 35-year-old has a warrant out of Kansas for drug charges, Wright said.

The passenger, who is the registered owner of the vehicle, was jailed. He also faces two second-degree felony charges of possession with intent to distribute, court documents show.

Wright said that, although some community members were concerned for their safety and wanted to be informed about the incident, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office did not believe the general public was at risk during the search for the suspect. In the event of a public emergency, the Sheriff’s Office can utilize reverse 911 technology alerting residents of any risks.

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