CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -- Pinal County sheriff's deputies arrested two women they say were transporting suspected drug money, marijuana and drug paraphernalia from Las Vegas to southern Arizona.
A deputy stopped a white Mazda sedan on eastbound Interstate 10 near Casa Grande at approximately 1:15 a.m. Wednesday after seeing it make several illegal lane changes.
The deputy detected a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle, according to sheriff's spokesman Elias Johnson.
A registration check showed the driver, Shanice Hempstead, 30, of Fontana, Calif., was driving on a suspended license.
She and her passenger, Tiffany Cleveland, 29, of Las Vegas, gave conflicting stories about where they were coming from and where they were going.
Hempstead gave the deputy a physician's statement of recommendation for medical marijuana issued out of California, but said there was no more marijuana in the vehicle.
Johnson said a search of the car turned up several pipes with residue consistent with methamphetamine, as well as additional marijuana. A black purse containing $47,670 in currency that had been shrink-wrapped and rubber banded together was also located and a total of $460 in counterfeit $20 bills was found in the women's purses.
Hempstead admitted she was hired to transport a bundle of what she believed was drug money from Las Vegas to southern Arizona. Cleveland denied knowing anything about the money.
“Not only do we see massive amount of drugs moving north through our county, a steady flow of cash continues heading south back into the hands of the suppliers,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “These women will be held accountable for their part in keeping the drug trade going through our county.”
Hempstead was charged with money laundering, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license.
Cleveland was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. More charges are pending.