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.

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