A traffic stop Thursday resulted in more than a ticket for a Tucson man and his passenger after a deputy found more than $270,000 in marijuana in his minivan.
Just before 6 p.m. a deputy pulled over a 2001 Dodge Caravan that had been westbound on Interstate 10 near Milepost 203, about half way between Picacho and Casa Grande.
As the deputy approached the minivan, he could see a huge sign in the back window that failed to block from view numerous bundles of marijuana inside, Tim Gaffney, spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, said in a news release.
"The driver and passenger in the vehicle were very nervous and claimed not to know each other," he said. The driver, Thomas Duke, 26, of Tucson, and the passenger, Desiree Romero, 28, of Sierra Vista, were arrested.
A search of the minivan turned up 14 bundles of marijuana weighing a total of 340 pounds. It had a street value of $272,000.
Also found: a vial of methamphetamine and a pipe in Romero's purse, Gaffney said.
Before they were taken to the Pinal County jail, the suspects told police there were no more drugs in their possession.
However, while being searched at the jail, Romero "attempted to grab and eat a gram each of marijuana and methamphetamine, both of which were located in her vaginal area. Detention officers were able to get the drugs out of her mouth and keep the evidence from being destroyed," Gaffney said.
Duke and Romero are facing charges of possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Additionally, Romero is facing charges of possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drug paraphernalia and promoting prison contraband.
Duke is currently on parole for forgery, identity theft and other criminal offenses.