(STL.News) – A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Wednesday afternoon charging two individuals with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in a pipeline drug case originating from the Utah Port of Entry off Interstate 80 near Wendover. Law enforcement officers found approximately 341 pounds of marijuana in a commercial truck they were traveling in.
“This case is unique only because of the amount of marijuana seized in a semi-truck. Every week, Utah law enforcement officers intercept loads of marijuana transiting Utah’s highways from the west coast to points east. In return, Utah officers will also intercept large bundles of drug-related cash traveling back from the east to the west coast,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said. “Policy makers and voters in west coast jurisdictions have created dynamics that negatively impact public safety in Utah. Simply put, these west coast marijuana havens cannot control the black market and overproduction dynamics they have created, and Utah is left to fend for ourselves in maintaining the quality of life we enjoy.
“I remind marijuana traffickers who hope to hide amidst the camouflage of state laws that allow marijuana production: federal law prohibits your conduct and I will enforce those provisions of the law in Utah. Marijuana traffickers may want to rethink their travel plans,” Huber said.
According to charging documents, an agent with the Utah Port of Entry made contact with the driver of the commercial semi-truck and trailer following an overweight reading at the Port of Entry. The driver of the truck was identified with a North Carolina driver’s license as Florin Daniel Goran, 36. Goran is a Romanian citizen. A passenger in the truck was identified as Claudia Marie De Marco, 35, of Hermosa Beach, California.
The agent at the Port of Entry conducted a commercial vehicle safety inspection. When the agent opened the door to the vehicle during the inspection, the agent detected the odor of raw marijuana coming from inside the cab. The agent requested a Utah Highway Patrol trooper be dispatched to the Port of Entry for further investigation. The trooper also detected the odor of marijuana in the cab, the complaint alleges.
A search of the cab was conducted and a black garbage bag was located behind the driver’s seat in a passenger compartment. The bag contained 11 clear bags with approximately 1-pound of suspected raw marijuana in each one of them.
As a part of the inspection, the Utah Port of Entry agent reviewed material noting the semi-trailer contained a shipment of Pedialyte headed to Columbus, Ohio. Opening the vent door to the trailer, the agent could smell marijuana. Another officer, who had arrived at the scene, looked through the vent door with a flashlight and could see large black garbage bags and unsecured boxes inside, the complaint alleges.
The truck was sealed and taken, along with the two suspects, to the Tooele County UHP office. A DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force officer responded to the office for further investigation and a search of the semi’s cab and trailer was conducted.
According the complaint, the trailer contained 330 packages of raw marijuana in clear and black vacuum-sealed bags, each appearing to be approximately 1-pound packages. Law enforcement officers also found 1,240 THC vape cartridges, 150 THC chocolate bars, and 126 packages of THC edibles in the trailer. The raw marijuana tested positive for marijuana.
Goron is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in the first count of the indictment. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the charge with a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison. DeMarco is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in the second count of the indictment. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the charge.
Complaints and indictments are not findings of guilt. Defendants charged in these documents are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah and an Assistant Utah Attorney General, designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. Special agents, troopers, and officers with the DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force, the Utah Highway Patrol, the Utah State Bureau of Investigation, and the Wendover Police Department are investigating the case. An agent with the Utah Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Division, Wendover Port of Entry is also assisting with the case.
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