By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Two Canadian men are facing federal charges after being caught with almost 750 pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine during a Uinta County traffic stop last month.
Darren Kareem Hall and Brandon Layton Rampersaud each are charged with one count of intent to distribute methamphetamine, which carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison if found. They could also be fined $10 million.
According to court documents, around 10 a.m. on Oct. 24, Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper Scott Neilson was patrolling eastbound Interstate 80 near Evanston when he saw a red Dodge Caravan with Florida license plates traveling east and speeding at a rate of 84 mph in a 75 mph zone.
Neilson conducted a traffic stop and made contact with the two men, both of whom had Canadian drivers licenses. Rampersaud, the driver, apologized for speeding.
Court documents said Neilson could smell marijuana in the vehicle and saw two multi-colored backpacks, two elongated cardboard boxes and black bags inside.
Neilson brought Hall to his Highway Patrol vehicle, where the trooper’s K-9 partner Max alerted to some type of odor on Hall.
Hall told the trooper he and Rampersaud were on a road trip back to Canada, saying they had been in Las Vegas for two days for a concert. Upon inspecting the vehicle’s rental agreement, Neilson saw that the car had been rented in Los Angeles and was scheduled for drop-off in Chicago.
Hall returned to the Dodge and sent Rampersaud back to Neilson’s patrol car, where the K-9 again alerted to some type of odor.
When asked about their travel plans, Rampersaud said the men had been in Los Angeles and were headed to Denver, and then they would go to Chicago.
After giving Rampersaud a ticket for speeding, Neilson informed the man of his right to remain silent and mentioned the marijuana odor. Rampersaud said the marijuana belonged to Hall and had been purchased in Las Vegas.
Rampersaud did say that the marijuana was gone, but that an empty bag may still be in the car. In response to further questions from Neilson, Rampersaud denied transporting large amounts of drugs across the country.
According to Neilson’s affidavit, he went back to the Dodge and mentioned the marijuana smell to Hall and Hall produced a dispensary-style plastic tube used for storing pre-rolled joints from the passenger door pocket. He was then placed in the backseat of the patrol car, while Rampersaud was in the front seat.
While in the car, the vehicle’s camera recorded Rampersaud asking Hall what the trooper was doing and Hall informed him that Neilson was going to search the vehicle. Rampersaud told Hall that they were in trouble, albeit in different words.
Max the K-9 was deployed to sniff around the vehicle, while Hall punched the metal cage of the car and Rampersaud expressed concern.
Neilson unzipped a large black bag and found several large, clear plastic bags containing a white substance later identified as meth. A thorough search of the vehicle uncovered 635 pounds of methamphetamine and 112 pounds of cocaine.