2 arrested after troopers find over 2000 THC vape cartridges during routine traffic stop – St George News

Utah Highway Patrol Troopers found more than 2,000 vape cartridges during a routine traffic stop, Cedar City, Jan. 30, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Department of Public Safety

CEDAR CITY — Utah Highway Patrol Troopers discovered 2,149 THC vape cartridges and almost four pounds of THC shatter during a traffic stop on northbound Interstate 15 Wednesday evening.

Manuel Alejandro Guzman Mendez (Left) and Joshua William Diaz booking photos taken in Iron County, Jan. 30, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The traffic stop was initiated near mile marker 62 after a trooper noticed a Chrysler 200 speeding and failing to signal a lane change. After detecting the smell of cannabis in the vehicle and determining that none of the passengers could prove to be in legal possession of the substance, the trooper was given consent to search the vehicle. The search resulted in the discovery of the THC vape cartridges and shatter.

Troopers arrested suspects William Joshua Diaz and Manuel Alejandro Guzman Mendez on multiple drug charges related to unlawful possession of marijuana.

UHP Sergeant Nick Street said the cartridges are valued between $20 and $60 each.

Street said these products are being marketed toward young people.

“Our big concern, and through some of the other investigations that the State Bureau of Investigation has looked into, we’re seeing on social media that these devices are specifically targeted to be sold to young people,” he said. “It’s an impressionable time where that kind of gateway drug or device can lead to other things, and we prefer it come from a regulated position versus the black market like it is right now.”

Another concern is the quality of the product being sold through black market means and that THC vape cartridges have been linked as the source of debilitating medical problems in individuals utilizing vaping devices. Street said although some may have been originally purchased legally in other states, counterfeits are frequently sold as well.

“You don’t know what you’re putting in your lungs with these things,” Street said. “You also have counterfeit ones being developed by clandestine sources in other countries that are being brought it in and sold as something people may trust, but they never know what they’re going to get each time they utilize one of these because they’re not getting it from a reputable, government-regulated source.”

Street added that some vape cartridges have recently tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl, as well as chemicals linked to breathing problems.

Diaz and Mendez were both arrested on multiple drug charges: possession with intent to distribute; other substance or marijuana under one ounce; and possession of drug paraphernalia. Diaz was also charged with having an open container in a vehicle.

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