UHP says ‘Tis the season for increased drug trafficking on Utah highways

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SALT LAKE CITY - On any given day, thousands of pounds of marijuana is likely to be traveling through Utah on the state's highways.

“We’re in a unique situation here in Utah," said Lt. Jared Garcia of Utah Highway Patrol. "You’ve heard the term crossroads of the west, well, we have three major highways that intersect here.”

The three highways Lt. Garcia refers to are I-80, I-70, and I-15. Lt. Garcia says that this is the harvesting time for marijuana in California and that traffickers are taking those drugs across the country to turn a higher profit.

He said, in the past, I-80 seemed to be the preferred highway of travel but now, “We do find that people will go out of their way from Northern California and then down through Las Vegas and on I-70 to avoid officers."

So far this year, Lt. Garcia says UHP has made 186 seizures, recovering 4,085 pounds of marijuana, 468 pounds of meth, 36 pounds of heroin, 32 pounds of cocaine, and 2 pounds of fentanyl.

However, he said that in a three-day stint so far this December, UHP recovered 286 pounds of marijuana, which is nearly eight times the daily average. He believes that's because of the time of year and the harvesting taking place in California now.

Lt. Garcia admits it's a tough battle to win. He says his drug interdiction team has only 14 people on it and the majority of them are only part-time.

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