ISP: Two marijuana busts, two arrested, in two days
POWER COUNTY, Idaho---The Idaho State Police is reporting a second large-scale marijuana bust in less than 24 hours -- both less than a mile apart.
About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, on Interstate 86 near American Falls, troopers pulled over a driver for a traffic violation.
He was identified as 56-year-old Carl Keen from Entiat, Washington. Officers said they found him with about two pounds of marijuana.
Keen was booked at Power County Jail, charged with trafficking a controlled substance, felony possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The Idaho State Police was assisted by the Bear River Task Force during the traffic stop.
The bust came less than 24 hours after a similar traffic stop occurred on Tuesday on I-86, only a mile away. The driver was identified as 26-year-old Michael Torgerson, of Leeds, North Dakota. He was arrested for trafficking a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, after officers said they found six pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.
According to Idaho State Police Lieutenant Gonzales, "Idaho has become a major thoroughfare for drug trafficking as marijuana laws in bordering states become more relaxed."
Many times, patients of medical marijuana programs in other states allow for non-residents to obtain large amounts of the drug with the hopes of doubling or tripling their money in states with no medical or legal acknowledgment, Gonzales said.
He said the two busts on I-86 were strange because of the close proximity, but credits the Idaho State Police with "simply doing their job in observing drivers to ensure that the roads are safe for travelers and locals living within the area."
Idaho uses mandatory minimum sentencing laws for marijuana busts that often result in suspects giving up supplier information to avoid the harshest sentence within the guideline.
If a suspect is caught in Idaho from out of state, and is willing to give up information about suppliers, the Idaho State Police will work closely with other law enforcement agencies in other states to ensure that there are consequences for abusing the medical marijuana system, Gonzales said.
In Idaho, the penalty for trafficking marijuana (between one and five pounds,) is one year in prison and a fine of no less than $5,000.
If caught with five pounds, but less than twenty-five pounds, the suspect will be required to serve a minimum of three years with a fine of $10,000.
Any suspect caught with over twenty five pounds or more will serve five years and be fined $15,000.
With Washington and Colorado voters legalizing the drug last November, and large-scale medical programs in California and Oregon, Idaho State Police will continue in enforcing the law as drug traffickers risk their personal freedom and cash to move marijuana across the country.