Police say surge in drug traffic on I-15 coincides with holiday season

Posted at 10:10 PM, Dec 04, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The I-15 corridor is a busy commercial route, but law enforcement officials said it’s also a busy drug route.

In November, the Utah highway patrol reported 43 drug-related traffic stops. Those stops yielded 2,000 pounds of marijuana, 15 pounds of cocaine, four pounds of psychedelic mushrooms and four pounds of meth. Those numbers are up from just over 30 stops in October.

“We always anticipate it,” UHP Sgt. Todd Royce said. “We always see that increase, we always have interdiction troopers out there looking specifically for that.”

Deputies say late fall and early December is a busy time for drug busts because growers in places like California are harvesting marijuana and preparing it for transport.

“Four of those cases had ties to the state of Utah, either originated from the state or were coming to the state,” Royce said. “The rest of them were transient, or were going through the state.”

Iron County sheriff deputy Wade Lee said just this week he seized four pounds of meth, and several ounces of marijuana in back-to-back traffic stops. He said typically where they find marijuana; they’ll find other drugs.

“We’re constantly stopping people on the freeway with drugs in the vehicles," Lee said. “Marijuana, meth, heroin, prescription pills, you name it, they’re going up and down the freeway.”

Troopers say extra patrols and specialized training prepare agencies for efforts to keep drugs from coming to, and through, Utah.

They expect a busy December as well.