GREENFIELD — Two men are being held in the Marion County Jail pending formal charges after state troopers found more than 120 pounds of marijuana in their minivan during a traffic stop on Interstate 70 in Hancock County, officials said.
A trooper with the Indiana State Police Drug Enforcement Section stopped a minivan for speeding along eastbound I-70 Tuesday morning, according to a news release.
Officers searched the vehicles, suspecting the driver and passenger might be hiding drugs. Inside, they found dozens shrink-wrapped packages of marijuana tucked into suitcases and duffel bags, officials said.
The driver, Tong Pan, 43, of Elk Grove, California, and his passenger, Liandi Zhang, 52, of Mechanicsville, Virginia, were arrested on preliminary charges of dealing and possession of marijuana.
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Both men were being held in the Marion County Jail at press time, awaiting formal charging, jail records show.
Though the traffic stop occurred in Hancock County, charges against Pan and Zhang will be filed in Marion County because that’s where the investigation technically began, State Police Trooper Trent Smith said.
Pan was caught speeding around 11 a.m. Tuesday while he was still in Marion County, heading east on I-70, Smith said. State police stopped Pan’s Toyota minivan near the 95.2 mile marker, just over the Hancock-Marion county line, near Mount Comfort Road in Greenfield.
Troopers have been in contact with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, and the formal criminal case is forthcoming, he said.
Pan and Zhang told the police that stopped them they were coming from California and were headed to Virginia, according to a news release.
The trooper who pulled them over said that as he talked with Pan and Zhang, he noticed a strong smell of marijuana — and fabric dryer sheets, often used to mask the plant’s distinctive odor — coming from within the van, according to a news release.
The trooper searched the vehicle and found the men were hauling several containers and bags filled with marijuana, according to a news release.