(3TV/CBS 5) -- A K-9 with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) helped lead officers to the seizure of more than 1,000 pounds of pot stashed in a fake delivery van.
The bust happened along Interstate 15 in far northwestern Arizona.
ADOT officials say at first glance, the van looked real. It had authentic-looking markings of a commercial package-delivery service.
But an officer with ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division noticed that the vehicle had an out-of-state license plate on the front.
Local delivery vans for the company would normally have Arizona plates and registration. But a check of records later showed the vehicle was registered to someone in North Carolina.
ADOT officers caught up with the van and noted several traffic violations as the driver traveled along I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge.
When officers stopped the van, they said they "noted inconsistencies in the driver’s story."
That's when "Hugo" the K-9 moved into action.
The drug-sniffing dog, along with his handler, Officer Tanner Martin, did an initial search of the van. Hugo immediately alerted officers to the presence of illegal substances.
An in-depth search of the van revealed found dozens of large trash bags containing 1,113 pounds of marijuana.
Officers also found five grams of a mushroom-based hallucinogenic, three vials of illegal steroids, and $7,850 in cash.
The driver, a 48-year-old man, was booked into the Mesquite Detention Center in Nevada pending transfer to the Mohave County Jail in Kingman.
The van was taken to ADOT’s commercial port of entry in St. George, Utah.
ADOT officers enforce laws involving commercial vehicle safety and permits, registration and driver license fraud, and unlicensed auto dealers, among other areas related to the agency’s transportation responsibilities.
Last year, ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division began using K-9 units based out of commercial ports of entry next to California, New Mexico and Utah to help reduce smuggling of drugs and people.