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198 pounds of marijuana seized on I-94

Dreamos, the Stutsman County (N.D.) Sheriff's Office canine officer, lays in front of more than 198 pounds of marijuana seized after a traffic stop about 9 miles east of Jamestown on Interstate 94 on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Submitted photo1 / 3
Mae Thao2 / 3
Xang Thao3 / 3

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — A traffic stop described as routine resulted in more than 198 pounds of marijuana being seized Monday morning on Interstate 94 in Stutsman County, according to the Stutsman County Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Matt Thom, Stutsman County Sheriff's Office, said at around 9:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 11, he pulled a van over near mile marker 269, about 9 miles east of Jamestown. He said when he approached the van there as a strong odor of marijuana emanating from it.

He said a search of the vehicle yielded 198.58 pounds of the illegal drug.

Two people, Mae Thao, 31, St. Paul, and Xang Thao, 30, Redding, Calif., were charged in Southeast District Court in Jamestown on Tuesday with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver marijuana, a Class A felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. Each has a $500,000 bond. Both people are in the Stutsman County Correctional Center.

According to court documents, Thom was on patrol on eastbound I-94 near when he saw a Dodge Grand Caravan with Minnesota license plates fail to signal a lane change. He had the minivan pull over and observed two people in the vehicle, a woman who was driving, and a man. The people were later identified as Mae Thao and Xang Thao.

Thom said in court documents the two people were extremely nervous and when he asked them individually about their travel plans, their stories were not the same. He said when he looked in the rear passenger compartment of the minivan he saw the entire floor was covered with blankets. Court documents said when Thom was talking with Xang Thao, he noticed the odor of raw marijuana. After placing the Thaos in different law enforcement vehicles after the initial traffic stop, Thom went to the minivan, pulled up one of the blankets and saw multiple heat-sealed bags containing marijuana.

Court documents said after a search warrant was obtained for the vehicle, $4,937 in cash was found in the van as well as the marijuana. Court documents state the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and the St. Paul Police Department are also involved in this case.

Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff, said this illegal drug seizure was probably the biggest in the sheriff's office's history.

"It's the biggest since I've been with the department, that's for sure," he said.

Kaiser said he is proud of the work of his deputies have done on his case.

"It makes me feel awesome," he said. "It is great work, it's a good feeling we can get that (the marijuana) off the street."

Kaiser said there are a lot of people who may think there is not a problem with drugs in the area, but a drug seizure of this size should dispel that belief.

"We know drugs are a problem," he said, "and they are flowing through our community."

Kaiser said it is no secret illegal drugs can be found in large quantities traveling on I-94 and U.S. 281.

"The problem is those drugs may pass through here, but eventually they find their way back here," he said.

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454