3 Soldiers busted with marijuana, cash in traffic stopPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Three U.S. soldiers are spending their leave in lockup after Sheriff Joe Arpaio's latest crime suppression sweep netted an eye-opening find inside their big SUV.
Those three soldiers are in the 4th Avenue jail right now, after deputies busted them with almost 700 pounds of marijuana. Now the military men are donning a different uniform, and have more in common than just serving in Afghanistan. All three are charged with hauling pot, with a street value of close to $550,000, across Arizona.
Romaine May, Dwayne Campbell and Llewellyn Stamoulis were arrested together after getting pulled over by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies on I-17 near Anthem.
“They were stopped for speeding by my deputies on the crime suppression operation and one had a revoked driver's license,” Arpaio explained.
But a revoked driver's license was the least of their problems. Deputies say the pot was stuffed inside 12 military duffel bags, stacked in plain view in the back seat of their rental Suburban.
‘We believe that they made contact in Tucson with another military personnel and probably received the marijuana down there,” Arpaio said.
Deputies confiscated 680 pounds, along with $10,000 in cash.
Sheriff Arpaio believes these soldiers are stationed in New York, traveling through the Valley on their way to Cincinnati, wearing their military fatigues.
“I presume, maybe they would figure they would go undetected, people would feel sorry and maybe that could be a way of avoiding some detection,” Arpaio said.
Arpaio's most recent crime sweep is what lead deputies to this major drug bust. In total, 51 arrests were made in 40 hours, the majority illegal immigrants.
“This may be just the beginning, and these people could've avoided detection if we weren't out there to start the initiation of this drug case,” Arpaio said.
Sheriff Arpaio says he plans on investigating this further by contacting military officials in both Tucson and New York.
The men have been charged with possession and drug transportation, money laundering and conspiracy.