(La Porte County, IN) - Two men from California traveling to the east coast face potential time in prison after being caught with 80 pounds of marijuana on the Indiana Toll Road in northern LaPorte County.
Lyle Smith, 33, and Karim Willens, 29, are charged in LaPorte Circuit Court with level 5 felony dealing in marijuana. They were still held Wednesday in the La Porte County Jail on a $15,000 bond.
According to court documents, a LaPorte County Police officer began following the driver on July 3 outside Rolling Prairie after noticing the vehicle changing lanes several times without the turn signal activated.
During a traffic stop, the officer became suspicious after seeing a box covered by a blanket toward the back of the vehicle. Smith, the driver, further raised suspicions when he appeared increasingly nervous.
Smith explained they were heading to New York City.
A K-9 dog alerted officials to the scent of narcotics, and during a search, the box was found to contain dozens of vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana. More vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana and $10,800 in cash were located in other containers in the vehicle, police said.
Evidence obtained from the driver’s cell phone indicated the marijuana was possibly from a major growing operation in northern California.