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Two people caught with 18 pounds of marijuana arrested and charged - Gillette News Record: News

Two people caught with 18 pounds of marijuana arrested and charged

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 11:04 am, Tue Nov 5, 2013.

Two people passing through Campbell County spent the weekend in jail after an insufficient cover story led to a drug bust of 18 pounds of high-grade marijuana.

Saengkeo Malavone, 41, and Bounnhong Nhalay, 52, were arrested Sunday after a Highway Patrol trooper pulled them over for speeding as they were traveling east on Interstate 90 near Rozet. They also didn't have a front license plate visible. But the trooper quickly became suspicious because the couple told him where they were going.

Nhalay explained to the trooper that he and his girlfriend, Malavone, were headed for Utah to visit her sister.

"I was confused by this as they were not traveling toward Utah," Trooper Joshua Undeberg wrote in court documents.

The pair explained that they were driving from Sacramento, Calif., to Utah.

"I was not extremely confused as Interstate 80 runs from the Sacramento area to Utah," Undeberg wrote. "It made no sense for them to be on Interstate 90 if they were intending to visit her sister in Utah."

The confusion continued when the couple told the trooper that they had decided to forego the Utah stop and would be continuing on to New York to retrieve clothes Nhalay had left at his home there before moving to California, where Malavone lives.

After telling the pair that they were free to leave and reengaging them in conversation, Undeberg became suspicious enough at the stories that just did not add up that he decided to deploy his drug-sniffing dog around the couple's vehicle.

The dog indicated that there might be drugs inside the vehicle and Undeberg began a search.

A short time later, he uncovered bags inside the trunk of the couple's car that contained 18 pounds of high-grade marijuana, a loaded handgun and testosterone enhancing pills, according to court documents.

Also found in Nhalay's pockets was $2,700 in cash.

The pair have each been charged with conspiracy to deliver marijuana, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, all felonies.

Their initial appearance in circuit court had to be delayed by a day because court clerks had to arrange for a translator who could speak Laotian to communicate with the pair during the hearing.

If convicted, each of them faces up to 25 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines.

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