CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A man allegedly connected to a cartel was discovered with 175 pounds of methamphetamine during a routine traffic stop in Cedar City.
Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) has identified the suspect as Jonathan Manuel Vargas, 21.
Troopers first spotted Vargas driving on I-15 near mile marker 65, noting his car windows appeared to be tinted over the legal limit. When UHP pulled Vargas over, they became suspicious of criminal activity and deployed a K-9 for an open-air sniff of his vehicle.
The K-9 alerted troopers to the presence of narcotics. When asked about the K-9’s alert, Vargas told authorities he possessed a THC vape pen while stating he did not have a valid medical marijuana card.
While searching Vargas’ vehicle, troopers discovered a duffle bag “containing multiple Tupperware containers of a white crystal substance” in the backseat.
“In the trunk were two suitcases containing more packages of the white crystal substance and five packages of blue M-30 pills” which were suspected fentanyl pills, says UHP. A THC vape pen with a cartridge was also found inside the car’s center console.
UHP says in total, Vargas possessed 175 pounds of methamphetamine, five kilograms of fentanyl pills and three kilograms of cocaine.
During questioning, Vargas told UHP he had “done five to ten prior trafficking trips before” this incident.
Vargas was arrested on six charges including three counts of the possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, one count of a window tint violation, one count of the possession of marijuana, and one count of the use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is currently booked at the Iron County Jail and UHP says his case will be screened for federal prosecution, noting Vargas has ties with a cartel.