Oregon traffic stop yields 40 pounds of marijuana, police say

Vancouver man among two arrested

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

 
photoGuadalupe J. Barron Magana

Oregon State Police say they pulled over a pickup on Interstate 5 northbound near Eugene and found 40 pounds of marijuana concealed in a false bed. Two men were arrested, one from Vancouver.

After a police dog noticed a scent last week, troopers called in the Springfield Fire Department. Firefighters used heavy saws to cut into the metal and expose the hidden pot, said OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings.

Troopers estimate the marijuana’s street value at $100,000, about $2,500 per pound.

“That was a significant discovery, especially the steps that were taken to try and conceal it and prevent being found,” Hastings said.

It began about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 28, when a trooper working overtime on construction zone enforcement stopped the Chevrolet pickup for a traffic violation, according to an OSP bulletin.

The driver was Guadalupe J. Barron Magana, 54, from Lathrop, Calif., and the passenger was Victor M. Valladares, 43, of Vancouver, the bulletin said.

After the illegal drug was found, both men were arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession, manufacture and delivery of marijuana, the bulletin said.

They were taken to the Lane County Jail and, since then, have been released pending an upcoming court appearance.

Hastings said the dog signaled smelling marijuana, and troopers began looking closely at the bed for any signs of alteration of the metal and also the bed’s depth.

Hastings said the OSP has kept no counts of frequency of similar traffic-stop drug busts.

In this case, after the investigation, the OSP decided it wasn’t leading to other pot rings, so they sent out the press bulletin. ­Hastings said troopers had no prior tips about the truck and its

occupants.

In other cases, he said, detectives with the agency’s Drug Enforcement Section don’t notify reporters immediately as they work to find other suspects.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.