700 pounds of drugs seized in Valley

More than 600 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 100 pounds of cocaine are on display by the Wyoming Highway Patrol after the narcotics were seized in Uinta County on Sunday during a traffic stop. (COURTESY PHOTO/Drug Enforcement Administration)

Two arrested in I-80 traffic stop in Valley; Troopers seize over $3 million in meth, cocaine near Lyman

EVANSTON — Two men traveling through Uinta County last weekend are behind bars and facing felony charges of possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver after a routine traffic stop by an alert Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper resulted in the discovery of approximately 700 pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 24, a WHP trooper was parked in the median of I-80 at approximately milepost 42, when he noticed a red Dodge Caravan with Florida plates traveling eastbound that he believed was exceeding the posted speed limit, which was reportedly confirmed by radar. The trooper then conducted a traffic stop for speeding, and the two men inside, later identified as driver Brandon L. Rampersaud and passenger Darren K. Hall, reportedly informed him the vehicle was a rental and they were “on a little road trip.”

An affidavit filed in the case states the trooper noticed the odor of raw marijuana emanating from the vehicle and states the stories the two men gave about their road trip were inconsistent and implausible given the time frame. The affidavit also notes the seats in the rear of the vehicle were “stowed” and there were multiple backpacks, black bags and what appeared to be two cardboard boxes in the back. As the rental agreement was in Hall’s name, he reportedly accompanied the trooper back to his patrol vehicle in order to check on the status of the rental.

Hall allegedly told the officer the two had traveled from Ontario, Canada, to attend a music festival in Las Vegas and were then en route to Denver. The WHP trooper found this “peculiar” as I-80 is not the most direct route from Las Vegas to Denver. As he reviewed the rental agreement, he discovered the vehicle was rented in Los Angeles and was due to be returned in Chicago – neither location had been mentioned by Hall.

After asking Hall about the information in the rental agreement, he allegedly then informed the trooper that they were going to return the vehicle in Chicago and were flying home from New York City but couldn’t provide details on any plans to get from Chicago to New York. Hall allegedly also indicated their trip would be wrapping up on Tuesday, giving them a day and a half to drive from Southwest Wyoming to Denver, on to Chicago, and then on to New York City, which the trooper deemed “implausible.”

Upon questioning, Rampersaud reportedly indicated the pair were traveling from Los Angeles to Denver, with no mention of the stop in Vegas until directly asked. Rampersaud also reportedly indicated their trip would end in Chicago, with no mention of New York City.

Notably, the troopers “certified narcotics canine partner” exhibited behavior indicating the presence of a controlled substance when both Hall and Rampersaud were in the patrol vehicle. Upon questioning Rampersaud about the odor of marijuana, he allegedly claimed Hall had purchased a small amount of marijuana in Las Vegas. When questioned, Hall allegedly produced a couple of plastic tubes designed to hold pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes.

The trooper then informed both Hall and Rampersaud he was going to search the vehicle with his canine partner, to which Rampersaud allegedly responded with expletives and said “Oh, my God.” The canine reportedly zeroed in on the large black duffle bags in the rear of the van and when the trooper unzipped the top bag, he reportedly discovered multiple large plastic bags containing a white crystalline substance.

At this point the officer called for assistance and backup, including a tow truck and an agent from the Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI). Hall and Rampersaud were arrested and booked into the Uinta County Jail.

After the vehicle was towed to the Wyoming Highway Patrol office in Evanston, troopers assisted an agent with DCI in conducting a thorough search. That search reportedly revealed eight duffle bags containing more than 100 large clear plastic bags and clear plastic tubs containing 601.2 pounds of methamphetamine (including packaging). Inside the cardboard boxes, they discovered 40 cellophane wrapped bricks containing 108 pounds of cocaine (including packaging). The methamphetamine would have an approximate street value of $2 million and the cocaine approximately $1 million.

Both men are facing two felony counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 5. Bond for each man has been set at $1 million. If found guilty, the penalties for each count are a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment, $25,000 or both, for total penalties of 40 years behind bars, $50,000 or both for each man.

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