3 arrested during traffic stop when UHP trooper finds 10 pounds of meth

ST. GEORGE — Three suspects from Colorado are in jail following a traffic stop Sunday morning on Interstate 15 in Washington County where a Utah Highway Patrol trooper found 10 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a speaker in the trunk of the vehicle.

L-R: Jesus Castro Soto, 25, Maria Marin-Lopez, 24, and Kevin Varga Aguilar, 18, all of Colorado Springs, Colo., booking photos taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 28, 2021 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Sunday shortly before 6:30 a.m. a UHP trooper stopped a maroon Buick Lacrosse carrying three occupants on northbound I-15 for what was initially a window tint violation.

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrests, the trooper said the driver stated he did not have a driver’s license or any identification, while the front seat passenger, later identified as 24-year-old Maria Marin-Lopez, said she was the owner and licensed driver of the vehicle.

The driver, identified as 25-year-old Jesus Castro Soto, said they were returning to Colorado Springs from Las Vegas where they had gone to purchase a car, but they had decided against the purchase once they saw the vehicle. The driver also said instead of staying in Nevada for the night, they decided to make the driver back to Colorado.

When the trooper asked why they would travel all the way from Colorado to Nevada to purchase a car and then return without purchasing anything, Soto responded by saying he “just didn’t like the car,” the trooper noted in the report.

The trooper also spoke to the owner of the car, who gave a similar account but said they stayed the night at the home of the person trying to sell the vehicle. The trooper states that when both Marin-Lopez and Soto were asked if there were any drugs in the car, they said the passenger in the back seat, later identified as 18-year-old Kevin Vargas Aguilar, had marijuana dabs, a wax-like substance containing concentrated butane hash oil. Aguilar later admitted to having the dabs and said he did not have a medical card when asked by police.

Following the admission, the trooper told all three occupants the car would be searched and asked them to exit the vehicle.

During the search the trooper recovered a bag of marijuana inside of some luggage located in the back seat where the rear passenger was sitting.

The report also states that during a search of the trunk, the trooper found a “large amount of a white crystal substance” hidden in the subwoofer that later tested positive for methamphetamine during a field analysis.

The weight of the drugs recovered from the speaker totaled 10 pounds. The evidence was packaged and released to the State Bureau of Investigation for processing.

A background check revealed the driver had an extraditable warrant issued out of Denver, Colorado.

Following the traffic stop, the investigation was turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation for followup, and several hours after the traffic stop all three suspects were transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and each booked on second-degree felony possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Aguilar also faces misdemeanor drug possession and Soto was also arrested on the out-of-state warrant. All three suspects remain in custody. Marin and Aguilar are being held without bail, while Soto is being held on the warrant out of Colorado.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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