A minor traffic infraction on a Utah highway last Wednesday led to the seizure of more than $500,000 in drug money and a large marijuana bust in Southern Humboldt County, according to officials.
The Utah Highway Patrol reported Thursday that an officer spotted a pickup truck being driven by Larry Edward Treadaway, 61, of Humboldt County, driving westbound on Interstate 80 outside of Salt Lake City when the truck was following another vehicle at an unsafe distance and then changed lanes without signaling, according to a statement of probable cause supporting Treadaway's arrest.
"Criminal indicators were observed," according to the statement, and the officer had a drug-sniffing dog, "Tank," check out the vehicle. "Tank" alerted officers after sniffing a large external fuel tank in the bed of the truck, according to the release, prompting officers to search the tank, where they reported finding "marijuana shake" and a large box containing $500,000 in cash.
Utah Highway Patrol officers then contacted the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which then used the traffic stop as probable cause to secure a search warrant for Treadaway's property in Island Mountain, a remote area of southeastern Humboldt County.
With the help of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, deputies searched Treadaway's 37-acre parcel in the 600 block of South Face Road and reported finding five large greenhouses with more than 1,200 growing five-foot-tall marijuana plants in them.
Additionally, deputies reported finding 111 pounds of processed marijuana, 46 pounds of which was reportedly packaged for sales in individual one-pound bags.
Deputies also reported finding 232 pounds of drying marijuana buds and $10,000 in cash.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Knight said the average market price for a pound of dried processed marijuana is about $2,000, meaning deputies seized about $222,000 worth of processed marijuana.
Knight said outdoor plants can each be expected to yield at least a pound of dried, processed marijuana, meaning the plants found on Treadaway's property had a street value in the neighborhood of $2.4 million.
Together with the Utah confiscation, law enforcement's seizures Wednesday netted $3.1 million in cash and marijuana, based on Knight's numbers.
Treadaway is being held in Utah's Salt Lake County jail on $25,134 bail on suspicion of money laundering, conspiracy to commit a second-degree felony, and having a vehicle compartment for contraband substances, according to spokeswoman Sgt. Cammie Skogg.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's office is currently pursuing charges of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale with the Humboldt County District Attorney's office, according to a press release.
It's likely Treadaway will be tried in Utah before being returned to California to answer to charges here, Knight said.
"In the meantime, the federal government has already taken an interest in this case," Knight added, noting that his office has been in contact with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
1. The Utah Highway Patrol reported a routine traffic stop led to the seizure of the $500,000, pictured above. The stop also led to the search of a property in Southern Humboldt County, where deputies reported finding more than 1,200 growing marijuana plants and more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana bud.
2. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Utah Highway Patrol reported that this truck - stopped Wednesday while allegedly being driven by a man from Southern Humboldt County - sported a false external fuel tank, attached to the truck bed, that contained $500,000 in cash and marijuana shake. The discovery led to the searching of a Humboldt County property, where authorities reported finding more than 1,200 marijuana plants.
3. Edward Treadaway