PORTLAND – A drug-sniffing dog helped uncover 31 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a suitcase during a traffic stop on Interstate 84 Friday.
Officers stopped a vehicle on I-84 at Exit 18 at 3:45 p.m., according to Sgt. Pete Simpson of Portland police.
After receiving consent to search, K-9 dog Nikko sniffed the vehicle and alerted officers to a suitcase in the trunk of the vehicle.
Investigators obtained a search warrant and found 31 pounds of meth in the suitcase, Simpson said. The estimated street value of the drug was $1.5 million.
The vehicle’s driver and two passengers initially denied owning the suitcase. Police arrested Nestor Catarino Zazueta-Valenzuela, 26, in connection with the drugs. The other two people in the vehicle were released without charges.
According to court documents obtained by KGW Monday, Zazueta-Valenzuela eventually admitted he had been paid $1,000 to deliver the bag to Tacoma but he said he didn't know what was inside.
“This [arrest] had the ability to affect a lot of people’s lives,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau. ”I mean, we know methamphetamine is an absolutely destructive drug in the community. There are no good qualities that are coming out of it.”
On Monday, prosecutors argued successfully to increase Zazueta-Valenzuela’s bail to $250,000, citing the fact that he was from Mexico and could pose a flight risk.