Evanston – A traffic stop by Troopers for a speeding violation of 83 mph in a 75 mph zone on Interstate 80 has led to the arrest and felony charges filed on a 47 year-old man from Laguna Woods, California.
Michael A. Howard was traveling eastbound approximately 30 miles east of Evanston on August 23rd when a pair of State Troopers stopped his speeding rented Chevrolet Camaro.
Howard’s demeanor and inconsistencies in his travel plans made the Troopers suspicious whereupon they called for a Wyoming Highway Patrol drug detection K-9 to respond to their location. The K-9 alerted on the vehicle and Troopers discovered 30 vacuum sealed baggies in two duffle bags in the trunk of the vehicle.
The total weight of the marijuana was 33 pounds. Troopers also seized just over $1,300.00 in U.S. currency that was also found in the vehicle. The rented Camaro was towed at the request of the rental agency as Howard was not the renter of the vehicle and it was long overdue to be turned in. The car had not been reported stolen at the time of the traffic stop however.
Howard has been charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The marijuana has an approximate street value estimated at $198,000.00.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation continue to investigate this case. The seized currency has been turned over to DCI. It is believed Howard was transporting the marijuana to a location in the State of Wisconsin.
It is believed that the currency came from assets that were derived from, or were used to facilitate criminal activity. The currency could have been proceeds from drug trafficking activities, organized crime or money laundering.
The exact undisclosed currency amount will be held for a period of approximately 6 months for the rightful owner to file a claim for the money. If no one files a legitimate claim during that time period the currency will then begin an asset forfeiture proceeding.
The asset forfeiture proceedings could take an additional 6 to 8 months. After that time the money will be divided up among the law enforcement agencies involved in the seizure and the investigation process.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol K-9’s are trained to detect narcotics and are utilized to conduct drug sniffs of vehicles to locate narcotics being transported from one location to another. The Wyoming Highway Patrol drug detecting K-9, Trooper and K-9 training and the K-9 equipment were purchased with a federal grant secured from HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area).