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Seizure on I-94 of 198 pounds of pot near Jamestown could be largest in sheriff's office history

Dreamos, the Stutsman County 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 Monday morning. Courtesy / Stutsman County Sheriff's Office1 / 3
Mae Thao, 31, St. Paul, Minn. Submitted photo2 / 3
Xang Thao, 30, Redding, Calif. Submitted photo3 / 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 he pulled a van over about 9 miles east of Jamestown. He said when he approached the van there as a strong odor of marijuana emanating from it and the driver and passenger seemed extremely nervous.

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

Two people, Mae Thao, 31, St. Paul, Minn., and Xang Thao, 30, Redding, Calif., were charged in Southeast District Court in Jamestown 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 theThaos.

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

Chris Olson

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

(701) 952-8454