CAMP VERDE - A YCSO K9 deputy arrested two illegal aliens from Mexico Wednesday for transporting more than two pounds of heroin concealed in duct tape inside the air filter of a Jeep, according to a release from Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
As part of a multi-agency K9 operation Martin Salas, 37, and Luis Lopez-Sanchez, 29, were arrested for various narcotic charges after a routine traffic stop.
Around 4:45 p.m., a YCSO K9 deputy noticed a white 2005 Jeep travelling north on I-17 in the Camp Verde area with a visible equipment violation, according to the release. As the deputy accelerated to catch the Jeep, the driver made an unsafe lane change and cut off an adjacent vehicle. The Jeep quickly exited the freeway and attempted to enter the south I-17 ramp but was stopped by the deputy, according to YCSO.
The release stated that the driver was identified as Luis Lopez-Sanchez who was accompanied by a passenger, Martin Salas. Lopez-Sanchez provided a Mexico identification card. During a conversation with the occupants, YCSO said the deputy detected an odor of marijuana from the Jeep's interior.
Lopez-Sanchez told the deputy he was heading to Utah to visit family, but suddenly turned around because he forgot his cell phone, according to the release. The phone was later found. Additionally, YCSO said Lopez-Sanchez could not provide the passenger's correct name.
Salas told the deputy in a separate interview that they were heading to Las Vegas for work.
Suspecting that the vehicle may contain drug/narcotic contraband based on the marijuana odor, the deputy requested and received consent to search, according to the release.
Inside the Jeep, the K9 deputy found a meth pipe and usable amount of marijuana stuffed into the passenger seat. YCSO said the deputy noticed that the air filter case had fresh handprints on it and was loose during a routine examination of the engine compartment.
Removing the filter cover exposed a package wrapped in duct tape. Upon opening the package, the deputy discovered more than 2 pounds of heroin and a handgun, stated the release.
Deputies found meth and marijuana hidden in Salas' shoes during a detailed search, said YCSO.
According to the release, deputies are in the process of investigating the transportation of the heroin, including its origin and destination.
YCSO said both suspects were booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center on charges including Possession/Transportation of Narcotic Drugs, Possession of Narcotic Drugs, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Weapons Misconduct.
The release stated that both suspects indicated they had entered the U.S. illegally just a few days prior and each remains in-custody on an immigration hold.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov